Carpentry. Painting and decorating. Brick and block laying. Aluminium joinery. Furniture and cabinet making. Concreting. These are a few of the trades that secondary school students got to experience during the BCITO #tradesforme School Activity Day last week.
Held at the grounds of Alexandra Racecourse and featuring students from all over Auckland, the purpose was to broaden the awareness of pathways within the building and construction industry, where there is unprecedented demand across a range of trade areas.
BCITO is the largest provider of construction trade apprenticeships in New Zealand and they recognised the need to work more closely with secondary schools, especially as school leavers provide a strong pipeline of talent for the construction industry. They recently developed a new web portal called MyBCITO where students can create a portfolio of work and share this with BCITO and potential employers.
Industry Training Federation Chief Executive Josh Williams believes the future of trades is bright. ‘’Employing young people in growing industries is a win-win. Training on-the-job develops the right skills at the right time, and individual growth translates into the regional and economic growth the country needs’’.
I accompanied a group of year 13 students from St Peter’s College and they liked how they were able to practically use tools and construction materials to carry out tasks. This included wall-papering, constructing a brick wall, to assembling a small cabinet box. They were also able to chat to the trades staff and receive advice in a friendly, informal manner.
As someone who engages in work seemingly the polar-opposite of a building trade, I also learned lots about this dynamic industry.
- I learnt that BCITO offer 15 distinct trades, with over 50 specialisations in total.
- Paper-hanging (wallpapering) services are in high demand, especially with the resurging popularity of wallpaper.
- BCITO has an Advocate for Women named Fiona Cumming and she is totally committed to growing the number of females in trades.
- The industry is requiring thousands more people to keep up with the demand!
- A high level of physical work and precision is expected. Young people are encouraged to listen, be humble and take direction when given. Be open to learning from mistakes.
- BCITO recognize an opportunity for school-leavers to develop strong work habits if they start an apprenticeship early on in their career.
- Health and safety is paramount. It was great to see students wearing protective gear and being reminded of safe practices.
- With the Government’s new Fees Free policy, people undertaking trades training get their first 2 years free (you only receive 1 year, if undertaking other forms of study).
- Employers love it when young people proactively contact them about work experience or a potential apprenticeship. Be prepared by having your CV and examples of work (a one page document is fine) ready.