New partnership provides skills for Mangere College cadets

In the last school holidays, five year 13 Mangere College students traded their holidays for early starts, heading to local Housing New Zealand homes to install showers and do repairs.

It might sound like some cruel extension of detention, but it was the start of an important partnership between the school, HNZ, PBMC Spotless, and Housing New Zealand subsidiary HLC, who are leading the Mangere Development project.

The Mangere Development is a large redevelopment project that will replace ageing state houses with new, warm, dry homes for HNZ tenants, first-home buyers and other property buyers.

A major goal of the development is also to create better communities in which to live and work.

At the same time, Mangere College is expanding a career-oriented programme called Vocational Pathways, which gives students a mix of trades training through the Manukau Institute of Technology and targeted NCEA studies.

Spotless also has a work experience programme.

The stars aligned, and a pilot cadetship programme for the school holidays was born, providing young people from Mangere with the chance to gain practical work experience in trades like building and plumbing.

HLC Community Development and Engagement Co-ordinator Karla Beazley says it’s been great working alongside Mangere College’s principal, Tom Webb.

“It’s been terrific to find good opportunities for students to be involved in the work we’re doing here in Mangere. Not only are the students getting valuable work experience, they are also being exposed to all kinds of construction-based trades through the Spotless programme.

“This is just the beginning of our partnership and we are already talking about how we can extend this further.”

John Kumitau, whose deep connections to Mangere have made him an invaluable community engagement advisor for the Mangere Development, says the cadet programme ensures the development partners are doing more than simply building new homes and facilities.

“We want to create a development project that also does good in the community it affects – not just by making warm, dry homes, but by using our opportunities to make people’s lives better. For instance, we can use our connections to the building and construction industry to create local job opportunities.”

For Mangere College Principal Tom Webb, the pilot scheme was another way for his students to shake off the stereotypes of teenage boys and show they were engaged and hungry for experience.

“These young men recognise the value of an opportunity. They willingly gave up a fortnight of sleep-ins because they know they have a chance to progress towards a career when they see one.

“One of the really big motivators among this group is the desire to contribute to their families. They see being one of the breadwinners in the home as a big responsibility that they want to live up to.”

Nick Davidson, Spotless General Manager Housing, says the pilot programme has been a massive success, and is looking forward to seeing it extended.

“All five young men completed the full two weeks, and they have made a very good impression, with our subcontractors keen to stay in touch once these five are ready for full-time work.”

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