Construction company giving students learning opportunities

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Construction company Hawkes Bay Project Management has partnered with the tertiary organisation Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) to provide school students with a pathway into the construction industry.

On site and under mentorship from company owner John Roil, a group of 14 Year 13 students from local secondary schools will be building a one-bedroom property. This allows them to earn sector-related credits, making their learning relevant to an industry and preparing them for work.

“The skills they are learning are a starting point for their careers in construction,” Mr Roil says.

“It’s incredible to see those kids begin with a block of wood and end up with a completed building. It’s giving them skills they can use anywhere in New Zealand,” he says.

“This country needs construction workers, especially in Christchurch and Auckland.”

Mr Roil says creating a path for young people to follow is integral to education, and he sees his involvement as a community responsibility.

“What we’re doing is helping young Kiwis with career progression. Students are fulfilling a cadetship, which can become an apprenticeship and then, with higher qualifications, can lead to management.

“The more influence on this process from the world outside formal education, for instance, from business, the better.”

EIT also offers construction pathways to school leavers, and experience like this will make the transition to further study in this industry more achievable.

Mr Roil also sees the benefit of this young and skilled workforce to the Hawkes Bay economy. From a social perspective, this former teacher, builder, mentor and Hastings District Councillor says education and work opportunities are the key to lifting the aspirations of young people.

Mr Roil’s company specialises in prefabricated buildings. He delivers prefabricated police stations to rural areas of New Zealand, and came to the attention of EIT when he won the Supreme Award at the Hawkes Bay Chamber of Commerce business awards.

EIT saw assembling kitset buildings as a challenge for their students, and asked Mr Roil if he would be involved.

He saw the project as an ideal opportunity to combine his passions of teaching and building. He agreed, and has mentored and facilitated the programme where the EIT Trades Academy and tertiary students construct a range of prefabricated buildings.

The buildings are then sold to the Ministry of Education for use as classrooms, early childhood centres or offices.

EIT business relationship and trades academy manager Paul Hursthouse says from his perspective, satisfaction is measured by the students’ engagement, motivation, achievement and, ultimately, their success. “And so far, the students are loving it,” he says.

Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s group manager for youth guarantee, says this sort of collaboration between business and education will ensure that school leavers are highly skilled and “work ready”.

“Relevancy in education is crucial, and can only be achieved when industry is actively involved in supporting curriculum decisions,” Mr Graves says.“We are encouraging businesses and schools to source similar partnerships around the country. Learning happens both inside and outside of the traditional classroom.”