OPINION: Efforts to attract pupils to trades

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Trades-related . . . Young local tradies have been sharing their experiences on video and talking to high school pupils about the advantages of a career in the trades. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Today the Courier introduces a new monthly column from economic development organisation Aoraki Development, exploring the challenges and opportunities in the region.


The challenge of getting skilled staff to come to the workforce in Timaru district is one of the key focuses of Aoraki Development’s work as industries struggle to get the staff they need to keep their businesses thriving.

The challenge of getting skilled staff to come to the region is not unique to the Timaru district – it’s something that all of New Zealand is battling with and is likely to continue to be a challenge going forward.

There are various ways to try to combat this skills shortage and one is by attracting skilled migrants to our district.

This can be a highly successful way to get skilled staff here but it can also be a long and, at times, challenging process.

If your business is interested in trying to attract staff from overseas, one of the first ports of call for you is to check out the New Zealand Immigration website, www.newzealandnow.govt.nz, where you will find a vast array of information ranging from the skills shortage lists to tips for migrants on settling in.

One of the ways Aoraki Development is hoping to make a difference for our trades sector is to try to attract our young school leavers into the trades.

We have pulled together a trades sector business connection group where local trades businesses can gather to talk about their shared issues and try to work collaboratively to address some of these challenges.

There has been much discussion about the importance of attracting young people, particularly school leavers, into the trades as attractive, lucrative and exciting career pathways, mostly achievable without student debt.

For school pupils, their parents and caregivers and their teachers, eyes to the possibilities of career pathways in the trades.

We have been working on a variety of ways to do this with huge support from our local businesses. As a result we have organised dozens of guest speakers to go into schools around the region to talk to the pupils directly about their industries and the job potential for them, plus there have also been a number of trades sector days where pupils have been able to visit our businesses and get a first-hand look at what goes on inside their production facilities.

It has been a hugely eye-opening experience for the school pupils, and the teachers have reported back to us saying the visits have been enlightening for them as well.

Feedback from the schools and businesses has included comments about the importance of getting younger staff working in industry to talk to the school’s pupils, as they are more likely to listen seriously to someone who is just a few years older than them, rather than the senior business managers or owners.

We have created a series of short videos featuring some young trades “superstars” who talk about their jobs, why they chose a trades career and what they believe are the best reasons for getting a trade.

The videos are being promoted on social media now and shared as a free resource for the schools to use with their pupils. They have been a huge success so far and it is a credit to the young superstars who have been prepared to step up and go out of their comfort zone and be filmed talking about their jobs.

You can view the trades superstars videos on our Aoraki Development YouTube channel. Remember to share them with any school pupils or the parents and caregivers of these young people to hopefully inspire them to look at a trades career and help give our local businesses a boost.