Civil Trades: meet the grads

Joshua Rapihana of Downer NZ and Scott McKenzie of Ching Contracting are the fifth and sixth Kiwis to become Civil Trades certified. Although Downer and Ching Contracting are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of size, the Civil Trades regime is proving to be equally accessible and beneficial to both companies.

Joshua Rapihana, Downer NZ, Waiheke Islandp42-Training-300x300

For Joshua Rapihana, becoming a Certified Civil Tradesperson is an important step towards progressing his career.

Josh has worked for Downer NZ on Waiheke Island for almost six years. He started with the company as a labourer and has worked his way up to his current role as supervisor. In this role, Josh is responsible for organising and managing anywhere between 20 to 40 staff on a daily basis. Part of the management of his team is to ensure that health, safety, environmental and quality standards are being met.

Before he joined Downer, Josh worked for a labour hire company in Kaitaia for a number of years. He did a bit of labouring and traffic control for companies including Downer and Transfield, but a lack of work opportunities and regular employment prompted him to relocate to Waiheke.

The opportunity to work outdoors and in different places was what attracted Josh to a career in the civil infrastructure industry in the first place and he hasn’t been disappointed. The constant variety in job scope and scenery means he never gets bored. Josh says that the best part of his role at Downer is the opportunity for ongoing personal development. He’s worked hard to get where he is today, observing and constantly learning from his colleagues.

Josh also enjoys the fact that there is always something new to learn in the civil infrastructure industry – even when you have years of experience. As well as becoming a Certified Tradesperson Josh has also achieved a Level 4 National Certificate in Infrastructure Works Supervision with a strand in Road Works. In the future, he would like to take the next step and become a contract engineer.

Downer had two employees in the first group of Civil Trades graduates – Joshua Rapihana and Robert Matete. Downer CEO, Cos Bruyn, sees a formal accreditation as a positive thing for the industry. “Downer has a strong commitment to the growth and development of our people, so our involvement in the Civil Trades programme from the outset is great. It’s a positive shift for the industry and we are extremely proud of Joshua and Robert for completing the programme and showcasing their operational competency.”

Joshua’s manager, Doon Waite, believes the qualification has highlighted Joshua’s capability and has been widely celebrated across the business. She says, “Joshua has grown both professionally and personally from his involvement in the Civil Trades programme and his confidence levels have increased tenfold. We are extremely proud of Joshua and his achievements in being one of the first in New Zealand to attain his accreditation.”

Downer has identified additional employees who will become Civil Trade Certified, with the first group signing into Civil Trades (RCC) later this month.

Scott McKenzie, Ching Contracting, Nelsonp42-Training-300x300-2

Scott McKenzie is a passionate advocate for the Civil Trades regime. He sees it as an opportunity to showcase the civil infrastructure industry as an attractive career option for young people.

Scott certainly hadn’t considered a career in the industry. In fact, he was about to head off to Australia when he was offered a job as an apprentice drainlayer at Chings. He stayed with the company for the next six years, before heading off on his OE. He has now come full circle, returning to Chings as a site supervisor.

In his current role Scott is responsible for ensuring everything onsite is progressing the way it should. His responsibilities are diverse; he is involved with health and safety, staff management, training, quality, programming, identifying and working through issues, communicating with stakeholders, utilisation of plant and resources, and everything else in between.

Scott has embraced the opportunities provided to him to get where he is today, whether it be the Civil Trades regime, training or leadership roles. Scott has worked hard to achieve success. He says that his reward is getting to see the finished product and receiving positive feedback from clients and residents.

Ching Contracting has recognised the benefits of the Civil Trades regime from the outset, and director Andrew Spittall has been a driving force in its development. Training linked to qualifications is integral to the company culture with over 50 percent of the 32 staff holding a qualification at Level 3 or above. General manager Hamish Oldfield explains: “Qualifications are part of Nelson and Tasman Council requirements, so staff development is an ongoing process. We’re constantly looking to see where our voids are and training to meet those needs.

“Civil Trades represents the top qualification in the industry and gives you a yardstick to judge against. It will even up the playing field for contractors and enable the smaller guys to show they are just as skilled as the bigger operators.”

Civil Trades will also have a number of benefits when attracting and retaining employees.

“It’s certainly given us as a business a way forward in regards to our recruitment,” says Hamish. “Being able to offer an attractive career with opportunities for progression is no longer just the domain of big corporates.

“And from an employee’s perspective, it means that they aren’t limiting their career options by working for a small business either.”

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