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Civil contracting apprenticeships for three QRS staff

Three veteran Quality Roading and Services staff have gained Civil Trades Certification this week giving them industry recognition as skilled tradespeople.

Experienced operators Stacey Pompey and Lee Pomana, and project manager Mike Wilson, received their Civil Trades Certification from Industry Training Organisation Connexis during a small ceremony at Wairoa’s QRS on Tuesday 27 February.

Civil Trades Certification is a nationally recognised accreditation programme for civil contractors that blends a trade apprenticeship with thousands of hours of practical experience. The apprenticeship and Civil Trades Certification is a new addition.

While apprenticeship programmes for electricians, carpenters, and plumbers have been around for years, until December 2015 there was no similar pathway for a career in civil infrastructure. It means highly skilled operators have for years gone unrecognised.

In response, Connexis developed a programme in partnership with the industry specifically for experienced staff already working in civil infrastructure.

The programme allows skilled operators to achieve the apprenticeship qualifications that lead to certification by recognising current competency from years already served on the job.

Connexis chief executive Peter Benfell, says the recognition of current competence process requires the employee to have been working in the industry for five years.

"To then apply for Civil Trades Certification they also need to show two years (or around 2000 hours) working at a higher level, most likely in a supervisory role. Letters of recommendation from people in the industry are also required."

Peter adds, “Veterans of the industry like Stacey, Lee, and Mike can feel pride at finally gaining formal recognition as highly skilled tradespeople."

So far, 130 people in New Zealand have earned Civil Trades Certification, with over 700 currently signed into qualifications toward certification.

"To have three qualify from one company in a small town such as Wairoa is a credit to QRS," Peter says.

QRS chief executive Nigel Pollock says Stacey, Lee and Mike each have 8,000 hours of practical experience in a range of specialities from road and pipeline construction and maintenance, to road surfacing.

“There’s been nothing prior to this that can get the civil construction trade recognised through a qualification. Now, thanks to Connexis, this gives these guys an industry career, not just a company job. Rather than being an invisible workforce they are recognisably respected tradespeople and we hope the pathway they’ve taken is an inspiration to others.”

Nigel says recruiting staff with the right attitude and skill set is challenging, but career pathways like the Civil Trade Certificate, alongside the district’s sense of community, outdoor activities, and accessible housing market, make Wairoa an attractive complete lifestyle package.

QRS’ Mike Wilson agrees. “Being civil trade certified means I’ve been recognised for what I’ve done in the past, and it provides a pathway for me for further learning and higher qualifications.

“It also means when we’re tendering for work at QRS we’ve got qualifications that will help enhance our attributes, and mean we can win bigger and better tenders.”

Stacey Pompey has been at QRS for 22 years. “To have come this far and become civil trades certified means a lot. It shows I have these skills, that I can pass them down to others, help them out, and open the doorway for other qualifications.”

Lee Pomana says becoming civil trades certified was a huge achievement. “It builds in me a sense of self-worth as well as giving me a chance to step forward and achieve a lot more than I ever thought possible.”

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