Build a bridge to build a shed

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Three WITT Te Pūkenga ākonga have gained full-time employment with ShedBoss Taranaki thanks to their experience in the civil construction industry through the Build a Bridge programme and the industry connections of tutors on the programme.

“Over the course of the programme I got to know the boys and their ambitions, and these three young men are top tier. I was happy to put them forward for work,” says WITT Te Pūkenga Lead Infrastructure Senior Projects Dave Hudson.

With the current labour shortage, Dave’s industry connections saved Shed Boss, commercial developers and makers of custom steel buildings, time and hassle.

“There’s not enough labour out there, and the boys presented with enthusiasm and a good attitude. We met each student on a Friday, and they started the following Monday as general labourers,” says Shed Boss Project Manager Steve Norman. 

The three boys, Coby Blair (Inglewood High School), Chance Johnston (Inglewood High School) and

Itibwebwe (Izy) Nganga (Francis Douglas Memorial College), now have the chance to build a career in the construction industry.

“They are getting a good start and could be qualified by the time they are 20 if they follow the industry path and become an apprentice,” says Steve.

In its second year, the Build a Bridge programme sees secondary students work with industry to build footbridges for the community. This year, 22 students built three bridges, two at the Mangati Walkway in Bell Block and one at the Waimea Stream Reserve.

The NZIHT School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure Programme Manager Jan Kivell said WITT Te Pūkenga is excited to see the programme growing: “While students work towards gaining Level 2 NCEA credits and practical skills using small tools and machinery, they are part of building structures that their communities will use for many years. The support for this programme from the Taranaki high schools has been great.”

The 2022 programme was a partnership between WITT Te Pūkenga, NZIHT School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure, Downer, Revolution Civil Engineering, NPDC and Taranaki Futures.

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