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Trade Crusaders To Help Rebuild Christchurch

August 24, 2012

EIT’s first trade crusaders – from left, Mathew Papa, Ngatoko Fraser, Presley Ratima, Hale Tuari and Michael Burne.

The Eastern Institute of Technology is launching a “Trade Crusade” to direct trades graduates into jobs that will help rebuild Christchurch.

“The Government’s Skills for Canterbury funding has enabled additional trades programmes at EIT, and because of that we’re now able to reinvest trained people to assist with the reconstruction work,” says trades training head Todd Rogers.

Approached by EIT, employers in the earthquake-damaged city have greeted the initiative with enthusiasm, signing up for the first group leaving Hawke’s Bay over the next few weeks.

Eager to start jobs in scaffolding, plastering, painting and general carpentry, the five young men say they want to make the most of the opportunity offered to them through EIT and to assist with the reconstruction of Christchurch.

Michael Burne will be the first to go, flying south on Tuesday (August 28).

“I can’t wait,” the 19-year-old enthuses. “I’ll be walking into a different scenario and situation and it’s great to be able to do something bigger than myself by helping with the rebuild.”

As the scheme’s flag-bearer, Michael admits to feeling some pressure as he contemplates the challenge of a 90-day trial with Elliott Scaffolding Ltd.

“Scaffolding is something new and different for me, but my new boss has talked to me on the phone and he’s really enthusiastic about having me there.”

Michael left Karamu High School mid-way through Year 13 and enrolled for EIT’s 17-week Certificate in Introductory Trades Skills – Carpentry as “a taster” before progressing onto a one-year Certificate in Engineering.

Completing his studies in May, he has been looking for a job since.

“So Christchurch is a good move for me,” he says. “My family will miss me a bit, but they believe in what’s best for me. I’ll be working in a new area and am ready to get myself sorted.”

EIT is providing “wrap-around support” for all those placed in Christchurch, says the institute’s employment advisor, Aayden Clarke. The tertiary educator will find jobs for the graduates, help them with the relocation and associated costs and arrange for further family-like frameworks.

Te Kaihanga, a Christchurch-based Maori trade cooperative, has indicated they will assist with mentoring and home support for those moving to their new city environment.

“We are doing all we can to provide strong support structures that will help them transition to a new career and a new living environment,” says Aayden. “We want to see our graduates succeed.”

EIT is also providing limited Trade Crusade scholarships to help those needing financial assistance to make the move. These will be targeted at initial accommodation expenses and relocation, mentoring and support costs.

While Michael will be staying with family in Christchurch, those following him down – Hale Tuari, Mathew Papa, Ngatoko Fraser and Presley Ratima – will initially stay together, their accommodation arranged by EIT.

All four are graduates of a highly successful community-based training initiative launched in Napier last year and developed by EIT in association with Te Taiwhenua o Te Whanganui a Orotu and WINZ. The Certificate in Carpentry (Level 2) is now also offered at other centres in Hawke’s Bay.

The EIT delegation that travelled to Christchurch to explore interest in the Trade Crusade concept returned reporting strong demand for work-ready and well-trained staff.

“We could have immediately placed many more graduates but want to make sure the scheme works well for everybody before stepping it up,” says EIT trades training head Todd Rogers. “And we’re very optimistic that this is going to be a win-win for everyone involved.”