As a little girl Litichia Franklin always dreamed of becoming a builder. But 30 years ago, female builders were unheard of and Litichia was repeatedly told “girls can’t do that”.
Luckily times have changed. The mother of five, and grandmother of eight, has just graduated from NZMA in Otahuhu with her Level 4 Certificate in Building. It’s the first step on the path to realising her lifelong dream – and to proving that girls can do anything.
“Last year, when I heard that NZMA was starting construction training, it changed my life. Building is my passion, it’s my dream,” said Litichia.
“My dad is a builder and he always wanted one of his kids to follow in his footsteps. Funnily enough it has turned out to be me, the only girl in the family!”
Litichia was one of three women amongst the 32 students who graduated on Wednesday from NZMA’s inaugural construction programme. Her father, who was celebrating his 58th birthday, watched proudly as she received her qualification along with a prize for excellence.
With a country crying out for builders thanks to Auckland’s housing shortage and the Christchurch rebuild, the futures of these graduates will undoubtedly be bright.
“The industry is desperately in need of work-ready tradespeople and apprentices, so our construction graduates will be highly sought after,” said Deputy Campus Principal Dr David Gatley. Dr Gatley has devoted a lifetime to the sector, as a design manager, architect and project manager.
“Already some of our graduates have found employment in the industry, and we expect many more to follow suit early in the New Year.”
NZMA has partnered with Wintec to offer the NZQA-accredited Level 4 qualification, which is delivered at NZMA’s new Moa Street Trades Campus in Otahuhu. Students on the course complete 120 credits towards their National Certificate in Carpentry (the building apprenticeship programme).
Although 80 percent theory, the course also has plenty of practical training – students complete four minor practical projects before moving on to build a sleep out, complete with aluminium joinery and colour steel roof. NZMA sells the sleep outs for the cost of the materials.
Following this year’s success of the programme, NZMA has announced it will double its construction enrolments for 2014, with 40 students starting in January and another 40 in July. Places are still available, but are filling quickly.
Director of International and Business Development Mark Worsop said NZMA was committed to supporting areas of significant skill shortage, and were delighted with their decision to partner with Wintec and deliver the programme in 2013.
“It has been an extremely successful first year and we have had excellent engagement from employers, local government, and community organisations to support our students and graduates,” he said.
“The proposed growth in 2014 represents the on-going demand for committed and well trained men and women to enter the building industry and we are anticipating an even more successful year in 2014.”