NZ Engineers Start Young

Auckland high school students are fast tracking their careers in the construction industry by building houses for families in need.

In 2010 Onehunga High School started its construction school. Under the programme class times are longer and many of the lessons are held on building sites.

Construction school teacher David Eastwood says students who are accepted into the programme gain real world experience in all aspects of the building industry.

For the past four years the building school has teamed up with the Onehunga One Tree Hill Rotary Club and Habitat For Humanity New Zealand to build houses for those in need.

"They take part in all aspects of the build, of course this includes building but also electrical work, plumbing and roofing," Eastwood says.

The students work alongside contractors to construct houses for Habitat For Humanity families.

On November 15 the fourth house to be built under the partnership was transported from Onehunga High School to Dargaville where it will become a family home.

Eastwood says working on Habitat For Humanity houses has landed apprenticeships for several students.

"The team that came for the roofing contractor this year was being led by one of the kids that was in the course fours years ago.

"Another kid in the team took part two years ago and was now halfway through his apprenticeship," Eastwood says.

He says one student this year was offered a building apprenticeship after striking up conversation with a contract builder on the work site.

The construction school is for students who may have struggled in a normal class environment or have an interest in becoming employed in a trade, Eastwood says.

"It is life changing for some kids, if they struggle at normal school or if it does not work for them this shows that there are other ways to learn."

Paul Look, Habitat for Humanity project manager, says the course teaches students about taking pride in their work.

"You really see their attitudes change for the better," Look says

"What we see here is that those who are ready to learn get snapped up by employers as the course ensures they come with a year experience."

Eastwood says the course is open to all students and two girls have already signed up for next years programme.