Leighs Construction take on local construction management graduates

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Recent construction management graduates Cynthia Wang and Daniel Fernandes have gained an enviable start to their careers as Trainee Quantity Surveyor/Future Leader and Trainee Project Manager/Future Leader thanks to the relationship between WITT Te Pūkenga and the Project Maunga hospital redevelopment team. The unique partnership model saw Leighs Construction go directly to WITT Te Pūkenga tutors to fill their future leader positions.

Katrina Mayo, Work-based Learning Lead at WITT Te Pūkenga, works alongside the Project Maunga management team to coordinate recruitment, training and upskilling as well as engaging with local education organisations and providing support for site workers.

“Brokering relationships is a big part of the role and it was satisfying to see Leigh’s be able to use the connection with WITT tutors to help with their recruitment,” says Katrina.

The biggest risk to the success of the project is people – having enough of the right people with the right skills at the right time. At the peak of the project employee numbers are expected to be in excess of 300.

Working collaboratively across industry with schools and polytechs, local agencies and the local workforce to build, train, retain workers is one of the keys to building capacity and resilience.

“It’s a different way of working that we’re making the norm,” says Te Whatu Ora Programme Director Jessie Jardine.

Both WITT Te Pūkenga ākonga completed their studies at the end of 2022 and have taken up roles as Project Manager and Quantity Surveyor Trainees with Leighs Construction, the principle contractors for the project.

Daniel choose to study the two-year NZ Diploma in Construction (Level 6) after completing high school and says he liked the broadness of the qualification and the way it includes both construction and finance.

Daniel’s tutors are glad he chose this qualification too as he went on to graduate top of his class.

Cynthia brings a useful legal background to her role as Trainee Quantity Surveyor.

“I trained as a lawyer in China then completed the two-year construction management diploma at WITT which has prepared me well for this role,” says Cynthia.

Both Daniel and Cynthia are part of Leighs Construction’s Future Leader Progamme which sees the pair guided and supported by senior management and work through dedicated leadership modules outside of their day-to-day roles.

“We see the benefit in employing graduates and taking them through a big project like this one and we reap the benefits as they become long term employees,” says Danny.

Project Maunga is the construction of the new East Wing Building (NEWB) - a 20,000m2, six-storey building housing many of Taranaki Base Hospital’s acute services including ED and ICU.

“Working alongside Katrina to connect with local education providers, local industry and other partners is all about taking a broader view and thinking about what we can do to leave more of a legacy and raising the capacity of the local industry to take on big projects in the future,” says Danny Tessier, Project Director Leighs Construction.


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