New Zealand has more than 8,000 people working as plumbers, gasfitters, and drainlayers, but they are still not enough to meet the industry's growing demand. Ready to address the current shortage is UCOL's new pre-apprenticeship plumbing course.
Interest from employers looking for qualified, skilled workers are already pouring in as UCOL prepares to roll out the course in May. "We started getting phone calls from local operators, who've heard that it's happening – we don't even know how they heard!" says Lindsay Tamblyn, UCOL’s Head of School – Construction and Engineering. "They’re hoping to reserve apprentices before we’ve even started, and they’re keen to take ours as soon as they're ready."
When there are no education providers between Wellington and Hawke's Bay offering this course, it’s clear why UCOL has stepped up to meet demand. "With this course, we look to develop the skills for the Central North Island," says Tamblyn.
One of the first things UCOL did before developing this course was consult with key local stakeholders, to check if they felt the industry trends would support these learners long term. "Majority of the single businesses we talked to was 100% in favour of it."
The 24-week course is designed to equip learners with the ability to work with their hands using tools. One can expect to learn most things – all the way from getting knowledge on different tools and how to use them to learning how to fit a hot water cylinder. Our motivation is to get learners work-ready with a real sense of responsibility. These are the apprentices who will be in it for the long-haul, and are useful to businesses as soon as they get through the door," adds Tamblyn.
Tamblyn says this course is ideal for anyone leaving school, university, or even for those looking for a change in their career.
In fact, there’s been so much interest from younger learners that UCOL has also launched a U-Skills Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying programme. Open to secondary students while they’re still in school, the class is already full. “A lot of young people are catching on to how strong the job opportunities are in this sector.”