What they don’t teach you in school


The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation’s trades experience programme for Year 12 and 13 students will provide a seamless transition into trades-based vocations

Tavita Nu’u was the first student to be placed in the programme, which is a collaboration between the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), Switched On and Hillmorton High School. He spent two days per week working with Switched On painters, builders and electricians.

Tavita says he learnt 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 are 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.”

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Student Tavita Nu’u working with Bill Kells, Electrical Operations Manager Switched On, as part of his placement.

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 to 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 try different trades, while still having the support of their school environment.

“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 whānau, this is a great way for industry professionals to play an active role in mentoring our future tradespeople.”

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Picture: From left, Ken Howat, Trade Services Manager Switched On, Amanda Williams, BCITO Business Development Advisor, Tavita Nu’u, student, Bill Kells, Electrical Operations Manager Switched On, and Andrew Carswell, Hillmorton High School Deputy Principal.

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 BCITO to further the programme and match more students with trades experiences in the Christchurch community.

If you’re interested in learning more about this programme, get in touch.