'If you can use a PlayStation, you can operate a digger': Bid to get at-risk youth working

Police have launched a pilot programme in Canterbury to get at-risk youth into construction jobs.

Royden van Dyk.
Royden van Dyk.
They took about 10 young people from the Rolleston area, aged from 16 to their 20s, to Isaac Construction at McLeans Island.

Sergeant Royden van Dyk and youth aid officer Bruce Ward are getting various employers on board and plan to take youth on similar visits each month.

“One of them might be the next CEO of a construction company in years to come, the opportunities are endless,” van Dyk said.

“If you can use a PlayStation, you can operate a digger and you can get paid for it as well.”

Van Dyk himself has a background in construction, having been a former road surfacing manager.

“There’s plenty of opportunity in construction. It’s one of New Zealand’s biggest industries,” he said.

Young people were looking for work, particularly in the wake of Covid lockdowns. “A lot of stress comes down from money and income. If we can get people a steady job then that would hopefully change the stress at home,” van Dyk said.

Ward said it was fantastic to see youth he was dealing with learning about the industry.

Paul Coulter shows one of the students how to use of an excavator. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Paul Coulter shows one of the students how to use of an excavator. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Isaac Construction roading supervisor Paul Coulter gave tips on career pathways and how to use machinery at the launch day. Contracting resource manager Phil Giddens was impressed with the ability of the youth, and the programme. He said the company’s chief executive, Jeremy

Dixon, was going to meet with van Dyk to talk about the potential of offering cadetships. Some of the youth had quickly picked up how to use machinery.

“Some kids will pick it up really quickly, and some won’t, but it’s not to say they can’t do it,” Giddens said.

Two of the company’s workers who had “chequered pasts” had talked to the youth as well, giving their personal accounts of how careers in construction had turned their lives around.

•Any employers or youth wanting to participate in the new programme can email rvea16@police.govt.nz.



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