Students get paid to destroy classroom

New Dunedin Hospital build staff involved in a new course in demolition, alongside a 20-tonne...
New Dunedin Hospital build staff involved in a new course in demolition, alongside a 20-tonne excavator with grapple attachment, are (from left) Ernau Beppler Neto, Jason Taia, Fuli Aivia, Sam Dillon, Helena Reynolds, Sam Angove, Kieran Down, Lisiate Ngungutau, Di Rizzi and Lunai Togia. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
There are few training courses where students are allowed to destroy their classroom.

For 20 staff working on the new Dunedin Hospital project, that is the object of the exercise.

The workers have enrolled in the project’s training programme with the aim of gaining a qualification in demolition.

They are being paid to tear down the former Cadbury factory and are being taught the logistics and science behind how to do so safely.

"It is a highly specialised part of the construction process," Workforce Central Dunedin general manager Mark Cartwright said.

"Anything we can do to recognise those skills and help people is of benefit."

New Zealand once offered a formal qualification in demolition but that course ended some years ago, Mr Cartwright said.

Because improving the skills of hospital build workers is part of its remit, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment-funded Workforce Central Dunedin decided to investigate creating some sort of formal training programme for demolition workers.

"We are working with the industry and industry organisations to try and develop a full apprenticeship-style demolition works qualification.

"We want people to leave the site as better, more skilled people."

The course, based on a civil engineering course, but with added demolition-specific material, is being run through qualification provider Connexis.

It leads on to level 3 qualification focused on plant and equipment, which some of the workers have already started.

Sixteen staff are enrolled in the course so far, and another four are set to join.

Classes are being held at the site office before work, and workers will also able to put what they have learned into practice on site.

Ceres, the project development firm, was "highly involved with the development of a level 4 qualification as well and are very keen for the workers to learn as many skills as possible," Mr Cartwright said.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

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