Engaging trades programme builds future workforce

Issue: Volume 100, Number 16

Posted: 8 December 2021
Reference #: 1HARuE

Two students from Manurewa High School have nailed the chance to kickstart their careers in trades with scholarships from a construction management company.

Avish is following his father into the construction industry.

Avish is following his father into the construction industry.

The construction sector is one of New Zealand’s biggest employers and provides opportunities for many school leavers.

In most cases these come in the form of a trade apprenticeship, but two hard-working students from Manurewa High School have gone above and beyond to secure scholarships with construction management company Naylor Love.

Ayush and Avish are graduating from the Manurewa High School Trades Academy, an umbrella programme for 635 senior students across 15 secondary schools in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

The academy partners with local business and industry to prepare students for the workforce. Alongside their studies, students attend a series of training courses and work experience blocks throughout their senior years.

The Naylor Love partnership came about when the construction company was managing a build at Manurewa High School. Contracts manager Luke Luijten, who got his own start in the industry through a scholarship, saw the potential in the trades students and wanted to pay it forward.

Two scholarships were offered comprising $3,000 towards course costs, employment during holidays, and, assuming all goes well, a permanent position with Naylor Love upon graduation.

Naylor Love contracts manager Luke Luijten sees great potential in many trades students. He is pictured here with Ayush.

Naylor Love contracts manager Luke Luijten sees great potential in many trades students. He is pictured here with Ayush.

High calibre students

Several students interviewed for the scholarships and Avish and Ayush, both Year 12 students, were chosen.

“I was blown away by how ambitious and keen they were,” says Gary Lucey, projects and interiors manager at Naylor Love.

“I do a lot of interviews with professionals, four or five a week, and the boys I interviewed were far beyond their years for maturity. We had to pinch ourselves to remember that these boys were only 17 years old. Their answers were very well thought through and detailed, and they didn’t come across as at all nervous, considering it could have been their first interview.”

Ayush was happily surprised by his success.

“Sir told me that Year 13s were going for it as well, but I told myself I could do it. I’m really happy, and I’m looking forward to working with Naylor Love. My parents are successful people and I look up to them. This opportunity inspires me to be as successful or even more successful than them.

“I have a long way to go, and this is a step to give me the leverage to run my own business and from that to create an empire.”

Ayush, Year 12.

Ayush, Year 12.

For Avish, it also means following his father into the construction industry.

“My dad is very proud knowing I’m going into the same field as him and I’m really happy, I’m looking forward to working with Naylor Love.”

Increased engagement

An estimated 85 percent of trades students go on to tertiary education or straight into employment, says Steve Perks, director of the academy. Between 90-95 percent of them achieve NCEA Level 2 or 3.

“There is a high level of engagement, and we also work with alternative education, that’s students who have been removed from their schools for various reasons. This is the second year we’ve done it and what we’re finding is that their engagement has shot up and it’s also increased their engagement when they’re back with their provider.

“So, we’ve got Year 11 students from alternative education now gaining NCEA Level 2, a year earlier than their peers,” says Steve.

He notes that a key thing for them is delivering a full education that sets them up to be independent, working adults.

“As well as delivering hospitality and catering, engineering, construction, logistics and so on, we have a team-building element; we get them their driver’s licence, we do digital literacy with them, and we deliver the Youth Employment Programme (YEP) so they’re prepared.

“We also do a short, five-week cooking course with them so that if they get a job and they’ve got to move out and look after themselves, they know how to do that. We’re looking beyond the skills just to do the job but the skills to live as well.

Avish, Year 12.

Avish, Year 12.

“A lot of our kids come to school without lunch so the free lunch programme is beneficial, even when they’re offsite they can take their meals with them. We try to think of everything,” explains Steve.

The academy is also working with Massey University to see if a course can be included for higher level students who want to go on to be construction managers and quantity surveyors. They also work with the Ara Education Charitable Trust (AECT), which has a trainee building site at Auckland Airport.

Houses that are destined to be demolished are moved to the site and refurbished by trades students, then sold so the school can buy other houses and continue the project.

As well as a trades project, the refurbishment work allows students to learn more about sustainability.

“Our seniors go out there one day a week in different groups to refurbish the houses and learn quite valuable skills. The whole idea came about because of the amount of waste that is being generated and put into landfill. This is a way of trying to prevent that, and to contribute towards cheaper housing,” says Steve.

Future workforce

Steve adds that the academy’s reach across business and industry means the school is becoming recognised for having a pipeline of potential employees.

“With less people able to enter New Zealand [because of the pandemic], they need to train up youngsters.

“I had a meeting with the Wiri Business Association and one of their complaints was that young people don’t come with what they want. I said, ‘Well tell me what you want, and I’ll build it into the programme’ and that’s what we try to do now because most of the companies want a very similar thing. They want punctuality, good attitude, and a bit of resilience. They can train someone to do a job, but the person must be there regularly – and that’s what we work on,” says Steve.

Ayush will go straight from Year 12 to study project management and quantity surveying at Massey University.

Ayush will go straight from Year 12 to study project management and quantity surveying at Massey University.

The academy insists on a minimum 80 percent attendance, set by the Government, and the students step up because they realise it’s different and exciting, he adds.

“They’re out of school two days a week minimum; some are out three days. During that time, they’re in an adult environment and because of that they step up and the difference from the start of the year to the end of the year is phenomenal.”

Gary Lucey says the partnership with MHS Trades Academy has been extremely positive.

“It was a really good experience, and we are going to do it again. If my son grows up to be anything like these young men, I’ll be a proud dad.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 12:34 PM, 8 December 2021

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