BCITO trades experience collaboration a success

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Switched On has entered into a partnership with the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) and Hillmorton High School in Christchurch to provide trades experience opportunities for Year 12 and 13 students and a seamless transition into trades-based vocations.

Switched On is a commercial fit-outs, residential renovations and alterations, and repairs and maintenance company based in Christchurch.

The second-generation family business has completed more than 25,000 projects in its 36-year history.

Tavita Nu’u was the first student to be placed in the programme after having spent two days per week working with Switched On painters, builders and electricians.

Tavita says he learned a lot of new skills during his work experience.

“I’ve learnt how to build and paint and use a variety of tools, but also about safety on the worksite — how to be responsible not just for myself but for others as well.

“The team is awesome. They are very experienced and are always sharing with me what we’re doing and why. We also have a few laughs while we’re working hard to finish the job.

“I want to be an electrician, so this programme has helped me to find a way to achieve that goal.”

Switched On trade services manager Ken Howat says the success of their first placement encouraged them to roll the programme out further.

“Tavita fitted in well with the team, and we were really impressed with his work ethic. Based on this success we are keen to extend this programme and help as many young people as we can.

“We have over 120 contractor partners, so we can facilitate any area of trade work students are interested in.

“To us it makes good social impact sense, but also good business sense. We need young people coming through to sustain the trades, so this partnership is an investment in the future of our industry.”

BCITO business development advisor Amanda Williams says offering trades-based opportunities to students who are still at school will help address a skilled labour shortage.

“Many young people leave school without really knowing what opportunities are available.

“This partnership enables students to explore the construction industry and environment, and to try different trades while still having the support of their school environment,” Ms Williams says.

“Every year we need 56,000 apprentices across all sectors, so this programme helps to tap into a wide pool of talent and reduces the chance of students missing out on this opportunity.

“As well as engaging young school leavers and their whanau, this is a great way for industry professionals to play an active role in mentoring our future tradespeople.”

Hillmorton High School deputy principal Andrew Carswell says work-based programmes make a significant difference in the lives of their students.

“Programmes like this are important for our school community because it opens up a whole new world for our students.

“There are many benefits — such as getting up and being on-site at 7.30am, which establishes a pattern of behaviour that is really important.

“We’ve also noticed an increase in attendance and engagement in other school activities, because these students have a real sense of direction and are excited about the next step in life.”

Switched On is now working with Hillmorton High School and the BCITO to further the programme and match more students with trades experiences in the Christchurch community.