Wintec trades students get chance to beautify Hamilton’s Ward Street car park

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Ward Street in Hamilton has had a makeover via some new additions to Wintec’s student car park, with 24 planter boxes filled with greenery enhancing what was once a plain and industrial space — and it’s all the work of Wintec’s carpentry students.

Following the demolition of Wintec’s W Block — a set of early 20th Century buildings on Ward Street — Wintec sought to secure a larger car park for students.

Wintec strategic assets manager Jeff Lukin says before a final resource consent for the student car park could be secured, they had to demonstrate a number of ways the space could be aesthetically improved. That’s where the idea of colourful murals and planter boxes came from.

Wintec used the opportunity to engage students, so they could gain essential real-world experience on an operational project.

“With the support of staff from the Centre for Trades, Wintec carpentry students contributed to the project by constructing 40 planter boxes,” Mr Lukin says.

“Twenty-four planter boxes were delivered, with another six sitting at Rotokauri ready to be delivered, and a further 10 under construction.”

Wintec Centre for Trades tutor Steve Wilson says he heard the facilities team was looking for students to construct some planter boxes, so he created a design/build solution, priced it up, and away they went.

“All my Level 3 carpentry students were involved at the start — moving timber around, sizing and cutting the wood. Then I assigned the project to three students, so they had a real-life job to focus on and deliver within a required time frame.”

The three students responsible for delivering the project, Zach Elmsly, Jared Edgecombe and Tayyab Ali, started the Construction Trade Skills Level 3 course last year.

Zach moved to Hamilton from Tauranga, where he had been a fencer for six years, to train as a carpenter. He enrolled with Wintec to gain building and carpentry skills and an understanding of building methods and materials before entering the industry.

Building confidence

He also thought study would be a good way to make friends in a new city.

“The key takeout from this course has been building my confidence with the tools, gaining an understanding of how things work in the industry, and developing a skillset that will serve me well on the worksite,” he says.

Jared joined Wintec after working in the retail industry for years — selling paint at Resene — but made the move to carpentry because the chances of getting a job were good due to a shortage of workers.

“This course has provided me with the opportunity to have a turn on the tools, many of which I hadn’t used before,” he says.

“I now feel confident to enter the workforce, knowing I can correctly use and maintain tools I will be operating daily.”

Tayyab started studying with the Waikato Trades Academy in 2016 before starting Wintec’s Construction Trade Skills Level 3 course last year.

“Steve is a great tutor. He set us up with the project, told us what needed to be done, and then let us figure out the rest from there, while still providing support and a gentle push when needed,” Tayyab says.

“As a team, we discovered ways to improve the process and speed up production so we could meet our deadline.”

Jared and Tayyab have recently finished the course, and they’re getting support from Wintec to secure apprenticeships in industry.

Steve says he is extremely proud of his students’ efforts, and knows they will all have long-term and very satisfying careers.

“This was a great opportunity for these young men. They were given a hands-on project with a real-world deadline — giving them a sense of what it’s like to work in industry.”