National | Building

Free Trades Training to open doors for Māori

The Manukau Institue of Technology (MIT) School of Plumbing and Gasfitting are grateful for the Government's recent announcement for apprenticeships within the trade industry to be free starting next month. This will ease the financial pressure of people interested in a more hands-on pathway and will cater to the rebuild of the country's economy.

Eighteen-year-old Joe Waenga is currently enrolled in the six-month Plumbing and Gasfitting course at MIT where he aspires to learn excel and grow within the industry.

Joe realised, while the university scene wasn't for him, this short course will help to develop his skills further.

"I've always had an interest in hands-on work so I do roofing, scaffolding and plumbing, it is just something I like to do."

"There was definitely interest in going into uni [sic]. I wanted to study sports science along the lines of a PE teacher or a coach, but throughout high school, I realised it wasn't for me and I decided to go through trades instead.

"There's a bit of building in it, a bit of electrician in it, and a lot of roofing as well so it kind of [sic] combines all of those trades together," Joe explains.

Joe's tutor John MacDonald says it is a great pathway but it isn't for everyone.

"I'm currently focused on the Level 3 students where you'll see the guys who are sticking around playing the PlayStation and aunty comes up to them and say no you get up and you get a trade. Now they go off to plumbing, gas fitting, carpentry but when they come here they learn a trade and they learn it properly."

The course finishes in two months' time, Joe says, "I would like to carry on with plumbing and do my apprenticeship down in Christchurch and eventually own my own business."

MacDonald says the Govt's recent trade announcement will be of great benefit for institutions like MIT and their communities.

"There are great positives because I think of our low socio-economic areas.  A lot of those are turning out to be brilliant tradespeople but why didn't we get them before? Because they never had the coin."

Joe believes that the trades industry is crucial in rebuilding the economy post-COVID-pandemic.

"It would be a lot of help I think they just realized that trades are a big part of NZ it's a big part of young men and young women like Hera and its a big part of our communities."

Hera Eruera, who is a tutorial assistant at the Plumbing and Gasfitting, is also an apprentice on the course.

She says, "With the new Govt scheme that they've put out as well, it's just a lot easier like financially wise for people to get into the trades now especially if like uni wasn't the thing for you.

"Here I just make sure we have all our material and gears ready for all our clock courses like such as fittings and pipework anything like that. But when I am not here at MIT I am out with another plumbing company getting lots of work experience being on the tools all day out on the road all day as well and it just ranges from maintenance or commercial work."

She also says there are countless benefits and pathways for Māori in the trades industry, and she hopes to see more Māori within the industry in the near future.