Kirsten McGavin with Stuart Phelps and plasterboard stopping tutor Ray Bradford.

 In just 12 months the Kiwi Can Do programme has become an established Work and Income partnership programme that transitions New Zealanders from the dole into the construction industry.

Kiwi Can Do was recently a joint nominee with Downer Construction for an Institute of Public Administration (IPANZ) award by the Employer Services division of Work and Income for “achieving collective impact”.

The four-week Kiwi Can Do programme fast-tracks fit and healthy New Zealanders who genuinely want to work, into jobs in plasterboard stopping and fixing, suspended ceiling and internal fit out, painting and decorating.

The course format has been developed in collaboration with the AWCI and Master Painters in response to the increasing shortage of skills in the construction industry. Kiwi Can Do has the support of the BCITO and the cadets are encouraged to sign a training contract after an initial settling-in period in their jobs.

Kiwi Can Do programme director Iain Morrison said the initial pilot programme was based around outdoor education to achieve an attitude makeover, but he quickly realised the cadets wanted a skills training introduction, more knowledge about employer expectations and the way they should conduct themselves once they were given a chance in the workplace.

“We listened to the cadets and we talked it through with employers and we came up with a simple but highly effective format that works. AWCI executive officer John Parkin recognised that Kiwi Can Do would be able to deliver a solution to his members and he brought on board AWCI stalwarts Fred Armstrong, Barry Staples and Ray Bradford, Morrison said.

“More recently we had a wonderful endorsement when AWCI president Stuart Phelps hired Kirsten McGavin as a plasterboard stopper from our recent Tauranga course. She was our top graduate with an enormously positive attitude and a steely resolve to succeed. Already Stuart is making arrangements to sign her into an apprenticeship.”

Morrison said there are hundreds more like Kirsten who are on the dole, but need some help to take the step up and get into a trade.


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