Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Helps Address Skills Shortage

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The Māori and Pasifika Trades Training scheme helps produce work-ready graduates like Turoa Kingi, TK, who works for light industrial building company Effective Building Solutions.

The company currently employs seven WelTec graduates, including TK, who has been with the company for just over a year.

“I really like all the building experience. It's getting pretty specialised, which is great,” says TK, who has worked on residential and commercial projects. “I've always wanted to do this since being in school and doing woodworking.”

Like many of the other WelTec grads at the company, he was supported through his Certificate in Carpentry with a Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) scholarship. Under the scholarship students are mentored through their training by the Tamaiti Whangai team and the Pasifika team at WelTec.

Stefan Baines, director of Effective Building Solutions says employing a number of WelTec graduates – seven out of the company's team of 26 – actually came about because of TK.

“Someone knew somebody at WelTec, a young guy looking for some work. That was TK. He came in and has been brilliant from the start,” he says. “When we needed more labour, I asked does anybody know anyone and TK said he knew a few from WelTec.”

WelTec's team of jobs brokers links industry with work-ready graduates.  They can assist in any field, however, there is a focus on the trades, particularly with the strong growth in the construction sector.

“It's mad. That's probably the best way to describe it. We're very, very busy at the moment,” says Stefan of the current state of the industry.

As well as the immediate need for trades skills, he says there needs to be a long-term focus.

We recognise there's a huge shortage of skilled tradespeople in the industry and it's important for guys in the industry to fix this. If I have seven apprentices now then in a few years' time I'll have seven tradespeople,

WelTec's carpentry programmes are pre-trade courses and on completion, graduates typically start as skilled labourers before working their way up to be apprentices then fully-qualified carpenters. “When it comes to TK, we basically treat him like a carpenter on site. He's motivated and follows instructions well. You show him something once, he picks it up then shows other guys working with him,” says Stefan.

“Throughout our current project we've done a lot of methodology and analysis, and TK has been part of it all from day one. For a guy like TK to be involved like that so early in his career is great.

Neil McDonald Head of Construction at WelTec and Whitireia says, “We are very pleased that the construction industry is in a strong state and thankful for employers like Stefan who have the foresight and confidence to provide opportunities for our carpentry graduates like TK to work through apprenticeships on the way to becoming fully qualified trades people.

The MPTT scholarship scheme is a fantastic example of a working partnership between industry, iwi, community and WelTec and Whitireia providing access to employment and careers that benefit, not only our young people, but as Stefan points out, industry employers and the whole country.

TK’s enthusiasm for the work is not unique. This is a great industry for young people who like being active and working outdoors. There is tremendous satisfaction in helping to produce something of lasting value like a house or commercial building. I also loved completing my carpentry apprenticeship which set me up with practical problem solving skills I could apply right through life.

The MPTT scholarship scheme is setting our graduates like TK up for a solid start in good careers they can be proud of. Many of our tutors are graduates of the original Māori Trade Training apprenticeship scheme, so who knows; one day TK or one or two of his mates could end up back at WelTec to pass on the skills they learn in industry to the next generation of apprentices.”

Background Information

A 2016 report published by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, has shown the demand for construction workers in the Wellington region is predicted to grow by 10 percent to over 51,000 employees by 2021.  This growth can already be seen as the Wellington City Council has issued a record number of housing consents (1,204) over the past six months.

The Wellington Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Consortium strives to contribute to the achievement of lwi goals and aspirations, and those of the Pasifika community, for a better and more productive economic future for young Māori and Pasifika, increasing access for Māori and Pasifika students to vocational and pre-employment training resulting in improved employment outcomes.

The Māori and Pasifika Trades Training initiative provides scholarships to Māori and Pasifika learners to acquire the skills and attributes to gain employment in the trades and to take up a New Zealand Apprenticeship or other higher level training programmes. The initiative also includes jobs brokerage.

More than 200 learners will be studying under Māori and Pasifika Trades Training at WelTec’s Petone campus and Whitireia’s Porirua campus this year.  Scholarships are still available. Contact WelTec or Whitireia for more information.

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