Originally published on New Zealand Construction News June-July 2014:
NZMA construction course lays a solid foundation
She could have been an accountant, a lawyer or a business manager, but Papakura’s Jessica Moverley has her heart set on becoming a builder.
As her fellow Baradene College graduates headed to university this year, Jessica donned a hard hat and set off for NZMA in Otahuhu to learn how to wield a hammer. She’s now several months into her National Certificate in Building (Level 4), and she’s loving it.
“I look forward to coming to the course every day and I’ve learnt heaps already – health and safety, foundations, cladding, roofing, concrete,” says Jessica. “I’ve especially enjoyed building our saw horses, and getting to know the other students and my tutors. The tutors are really great. They’re knowledgeable, approachable and happy to help. They really care about the students and want us to succeed.”
Although most of her classmates are men, the petite 18-year-old isn’t fazed. “All the guys are really friendly towards me,” she says. “There are five women on the course, although I’m by far the youngest. The rest of them all have kids – some even have grandkids.” For as long as she can remember Jessica has preferred the practical over the academic. “In the end it was a toss-up between building, becoming a sparky, or joining the navy, like my older sister. I talked to some of my dad’s friends who are builders and they said that, due to the Auckland housing shortage and the Christchurch rebuild, there would be a lot of building work coming up, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”
NZMA has been delivering the programme, in partnership with the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), since last year. Thirty-two students graduated from the first intake in December, and several have now gained apprenticeships or are working in other industry-related roles. Forty more students are scheduled to start this July.
NZMA director of business development Mark Worsop says the course is proving popular, and NZMA is committed to supporting areas of significant skills shortage. “The building and construction industry is desperately in need of work-ready tradespeople and apprentices, so our construction graduates are highly sought after,” he says.
The programme is 80% theory: students complete 120 credits towards their National Certificate in Carpentry during their 20 weeks’ studies. However, there is also plenty of practical training, starting off with minor projects such as tool boxes, saw horses, tool trays and oilstone boxes, and ending with the opportunity to work on a sleepout or cabin.
A foot in the door
Jessica hopes the NZQAaccredited qualification will be the foot in the door she needs to launch a career in the industry. “My goal is to get an apprenticeship. I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up. Before coming to NZMA I was looking for labouring work, but no one was interested. Hopefully once I have my building certificate employers will know I’m serious about a career in the industry and someone will take me on,” she says.
“Some employers may have a mental block because I’m a girl, but I’m way ahead of my classmates in the theory, and if someone will just give me a shot I know I can prove myself.”