Civil Trades: meet the graduates

As the Civil Trades regime continues to gather momentum, we profile Wayne Smith of HEB Construction and Joe Fraser of Goodman Contractors – the third and fourth workers to become Civil Trades Certified. We also talk to Wayne and Joe’s employers about the implications of Civil Trades for their own business and for the wider industry.

Wayne Smith, HEB Construction

Wayne has worked in the civil infrastructure industry for 30 years, firstly in the UK and more recently in New Zealand. He always wanted to work with his hands in an outside environment, and went to college to learn different types of building trades

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Wayne Smith

Although he is largely self-taught, Wayne has also gained a lot of knowledge from his peers and from older, more experienced colleagues. It has taken a lot of listening and learning to get where he is today, and Wayne knows that you never stop learning.

In his current role as site superintendent for HEB Construction, Wayne’s responsibilities are important and wide-ranging. They include liaising with clients, the coordination of subcontractors, and monitoring construction activities and material testing. Wayne also takes a leading role in ensuring that work is undertaken safely, in a manner that also protects the environment and minimises the impact on those living and working around his project sites.

Wayne says that the best part of his job is working with different people and the varying types of work. No two jobs are the same. He gets a real buzz from seeing a completed quality job, delivered safely, on or before time and under budget. This means he has done his job well.

Wayne feels that in the past, civil infrastructure workers were typically known as ‘labourers’, and seen as unskilled. He knows that this is far from true. From his experience, Wayne knows that people working in the industry have a wide range of skills and are able to adapt to many different roles and types of work. He sees the Civil Trades regime as a means to justifiably give them the recognition they deserve.

HEB Investment in People manager Noeline Hodgins says that Wayne will play a critical role in mentoring trainees as Civil Trades is rolled out among HEB’s employees. She explains, “A key requirement for employers is to have a good mentor for the people coming through. In many ways, people skills are just as important as technical skills. We’re very lucky with Wayne as he’s got it all. He gets great pride out of doing what he does, and from passing his knowledge on to others.”

Noeline continues, “Civil Trades will be instrumental for HEB in attracting good people. Infrastructure is such a tangible, exciting industry which provides some fantastic opportunities, but up until now infrastructure trades hasn’t been an appealing career option. We have no problems attracting high calibre people to our graduate programme, but the reality is that our business also needs outstanding people on the ground. These men and women control the excellence of that work.”

The introduction of the Civil Trades regime will also allow HEB to adopt a more consistent approach to trades training across divisions. There is already an established apprenticeship programme in the ‘Structures’ division for mechanics and carpenters, but there has been no equivalent for ‘Civil’ until now.

HEB CEO Derrick Adams says, “One of the biggest problems facing our ‘Civil’ division and the wider civil industry is a shortage of people working at highly skilled and/or supervisory level. Civil Trades will enable us to provide a structured career pathway for new and existing employees, and help us to achieve the growth we need.”

 Joe Fraser, Goodman Contractors

Joe Fraser was attracted to a career in civil infrastructure by the big machines. He got into the industry when he was just 14 or 15, and he hasn’t looked back. He spent the first couple of years working for his father’s business – labouring and operating diggers and bobcats – before moving to Kapiti-based Goodman Contractors. Joe has now been in the industry for 11 years, and is an operator/foreman at Goodmans.

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Joe Fraser

In his role, Joe works closely with the earthworks manager to ensure each project runs smoothly. He runs daily toolbox meetings (which include health and safety) and oversees activities to make sure they are carried out safely and efficiently. He also completes all of the associated project paperwork, including daily onsite reports, and manages the crews working each project.

For Joe, the best bit about his job is working with the diggers and dump trucks. He also enjoys working in a team, and describes his colleagues as friends. He takes pride in seeing the finished results of the projects he works on.

Joe says that becoming a Certified Civil Tradesperson will help him in his career by providing formal recognition of his skills. It will also benefit his employer – which is another big plus point. Joe already has several industry qualifications to his name, but the Civil Trades qualification is the first one he has gained through Recognition of Current Competence (RCC). He feels that the RCC process is the ideal way for experienced people to get qualified as it cuts out a lot of the unnecessary paperwork.

 Goodman Contractors director Marianne Archer has watched Joe change beyond recognition over the past few years. She says, “Joe has gone from leaving school with no real direction, to becoming one of New Zealand’s Certified Civil Tradespeople. It’s been fantastic to watch him grow and develop. As well as the benefits to our business, the personal benefits to him have been huge. Not only is Joe really proud of what he’s achieved, but his parents are wrapped too.”

Marianne explains, “Goodman Contractors is already actively involved in industry training. We’re a medium sized business and usually have at least 10 people enrolled in qualifications with Connexis at any one time, plus a number of others in apprenticeship training. We jumped at the chance to be part of the Civil Trades pilot scheme because we believe it signals a huge change for training and qualifications in the civil industry. We are delighted that finally there is a relevant industry recognised pathway which brings infrastructure trades up in line with others, and plan to enrol several more employees over the coming months.”

Marianne adds, “The biggest benefit of Civil Trades to our business and the wider industry is that it will enable us to grow our future leaders. Finding good operators who have the ability to go through and run a job is challenging, but we still strongly believe that an operator is a best place to grow from. It means that people understand each stage of the job and are learning through doing. Someone with real industry experience is always preferable to someone who has gained a theoretical qualification at university or poly but has no real life experience. Put simply, someone who is Civil Trades certified is good at their game and has some clout.”Blue PNG

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