Building is booming – and that means the construction industry needs plenty of tradies to keep up with the pace of development. But how do you get involved if you’re still at school or just starting out?
The recognised route is via a Building & Construction Industry Trade Organisation (BCITO) apprenticeship. This government-backed body develops and implements industry qualifications in a bid to ensure the building sector has enough well trained, competent people.
It manages apprenticeships in 14 different areas – architectural aluminium joinery; brick and block laying; carpentry; concrete; exterior plastering; flooring; frame and truss; glass and glazing; interior systems; joinery; kitchen and bathroom design; painting and decorating; stonemasonry; and tiling.
Anybody can start an apprenticeship, but they do need a job in their trade of choice and a driving licence, and it helps to have some background knowledge and work experience. Local schools and colleges also do plenty to set would-be building trades on the right path.
Mahurangi College careers advisor Marilyn Newlove says the school puts just as much emphasis on trades as it does on tertiary study, with a range of support, including careers expos, work experience, and the BCITO-backed Gateway programme, which allows Year 12 and 13 students to get practical on-site training and gain NCEA assessment credits for the skills they learn on the job.
“They have to work as if they’re in the industry,” she says. “We do all the OH&S (Occupational Health & Safety) before they go out, we teach them First Aid, we provide boots and tools.
“And they do the hours that the site is doing, not just school hours, so they might get picked up at seven and work quite late.”
Mrs Newlove adds that students often pick up an apprenticeship as a result of Gateway, even though that is not part of the programme. “It does happen, but that’s purely between the employer and them. We just give them an in,” she says.
Otamatea High School has a designated Construction and Whakairo (carving) Academy, where students spend 12 hours a week honing skills and knowledge needed in the building trades. When they finish their course, they are ready to start an apprenticeship and will have completed the appropriate BCITO standards.
The school also offers courses in construction, engineering, wood technology and the Gateway programme. Careers advisor Elizabeth van den Berg says potentially, Otamatea should have around 12 students work-ready for the building industry by the end of the year.