You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
The Otago Polytechnic this week announced a new level three Certificate in Construction Trade Skills at its Cromwell campus, beginning next year.
In a statement the polytechnic said it would offer students ‘‘hands-on training and a chance to be involved in real-world, community-based projects, including the construction of a four-bedroom house’’.
Central Campus marketing manager Melanie Kees said the course was created partly in reaction to the demand for qualified builders in the area.
"We’ve seen people in the public domain looking for staff. There is an obvious skills shortage."
As there was plenty of work, it would incentivise students on the course to stay in the area, she said.
The one-year course would teach students skills to enter construction trades as apprentice builders.
The course would work well along other trades taught at the campus such as outdoor and sports programmes, horticulture and viticulture, cookery, stonemasonry and agriculture, Ms Kees said.
Owen Phillip, owner of Alexandra-based Central Otago building company Central Blue, said it was a "godsend" to have a building course based in the area.
"At the moment we’ve got to send people to Dunedin or Invercargill for courses, and that ends up costing."
It was difficult to find good skilled workers, he said.
The young kids aren’t being geared towards the trades. Our apprentices are in their mid to late-20s.
Staff numbers had doubled to 12 in the past four years and demand increased exponentially, he said.In recent years many housing companies had moved to the area offering group housing, he said.
"We never used to have those. They came here after Christchurch died down."
Cromwell-based O’Callaghan and Walker Builders co-owner Steve O’Callaghan said he welcomed the course.
"I think there is the need for something like this. It has been hard to find qualified workers."
Demand increased "substantially" in the past two years, he said.
"But we haven’t been able to meet that demand because we don’t have enough people. I would think we would welcome having semi-qualified people."
While he had not heard about the course, he said he would be interested in working with the polytechnic and taking on its apprentices.