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Infrastructure Skills Centre Offers 'Work Experience For A Lifetime'

The civil construction and infrastructure industry has teamed up with government, industry bodies and employers to help meet New Zealand’s infrastructural skills challenge.

The Infrastructure Skills Centre has been developed jointly by Fulton Hogan, the Ministry of Social Development, Civil Contractors New Zealand, the Construction Sector Accord and a range of civil construction employers to give New Zealanders a unique range of experiences.

The first intake of 12 participants assembled in Christchurch today for an intensive six weeks, learning about the many aspects of infrastructure and the skills that underpin the industry.

Trainees are employed prior to the course and will be mentored by the companies they are employed by throughout their training. There will be another intake in Auckland in October. The results will then be assessed and the concept refined as necessary for the future.

Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Silcock says the Infrastructure Skills Centre pilot was a great initiative, based on an existing model operating in Melbourne, with the potential to significantly increase New Zealand’s ability to bring new people into the industry.

“There are rapidly expanding work and careers opportunities in New Zealand’s infrastructure industry right now. This means we need better systems to ensure people start out with the right skills and knowledge for a successful career constructing and maintaining the country’s essential water, transport, energy and internet networks.”

Fulton Hogan NZ Chief Executive Graeme Johnson says the Centre aimed to give people an experience that set them up for a life-time in infrastructure – an across-the-board appreciation of the various skills required in building, operating and maintaining infrastructure.

He says starting ‘on the tools’ after attending the Infrastructure Skills Centre, along with subsequent industry training, could lead to a diverse and satisfying career and be a stepping stone to managerial careers.

“In our sector you can start from the coal face and develop a life-long career – you just need the right attitude, work ethic and to take the opportunities that are put in front of you.

“The opportunities presented by the Infrastructure Skills Centre are more than personal – they include making a sizeable contribution to the community. Infrastructure is the foundation of healthy, prosperous and safe communities, so involvement in infrastructure is a pretty noble cause.”

Each intake will have 22 practical hands-on sessions, 32 theory-based class sessions and six site visits – to Allied Concrete, Stahlton Precast, Miners Road Quarry near Christchurch, Fulton Hogan’s Canterbury laboratory, a civil construction site and an asphalt plant.

The modules are facilitated by a team of 26 Fulton Hogan workplace instructors and subject matter experts.

The skills covered range from effective communication to environmental awareness/management, health and safety, budgeting, time management, nutrition and mental health awareness through to concrete pouring and finishing, reading and interpreting plans, applying asphalt, traffic control and use of power tools.

Course entrants are employed from day one of the programme with major sector employers – Higgins Contractors, Fulton Hogan, Blakely Construction, Isaac Construction, Better Trade Solutions, Christchurch Ready Mix Civil, BG Contracting and Rock Control Ltd.

Construction Sector Accord and Ministry of Social Development representatives spoke in support of the Infrastructure Skills Centre. The Construction Accord’s Transformation Director, Dean Kimpton says there are strong linkages between the Accord’s goals and those of the Infrastructure Skills Centre.

“The Construction Sector Accord is all about partnership between industry and government to transform the sector, and it’s hard to think of a better example of that than this initiative.

“Industry is stepping up to train people, and government is stepping up to back this project. We look forward to seeing it succeed and grow.”

Ministry of Social Development Director Industry Partnerships, Amanda Nicolle was glad to see opportunities opening up for job seekers to gain skills that are sorely needed in this sector, through the Infrastructure Skills Centre.

“This initial project reflects the value of the Construction Sector Accord and the impact it can have on moving New Zealand forward.”

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