“I enjoy teaching, it’s quite rewarding. Especially when it comes to the end of the course and you see it all clicking for the students.”
Lee Thompson is a construction lecturer at UCOL’s campus in Horowhenua who is dedicated to his students and loves to see them discovering their talents.
“I studied at Wellington Polytech before it was called Weltec and then I spent 35 years working in construction including managing at a Foxton construction company. While working in construction I found I had a connection with students onsite and I would train up apprentices. I was with my last employer for 11 years and I was ready to come and teach and pass on my knowledge. UCOL seemed like the right step. One of the UCOL lecturers used to visit my team onsite and I said, ‘right put my name down to teach’, and here I am.”
Lee grew up in Waikanae, later relocating to the outskirts of Levin and continues to raise his family here, one of his children studies at UCOL and he couldn’t be prouder of her achievements.
“Family always comes first. One of my daughters is here doing early childhood education
, one is at college and one is a volunteer. I’m very proud of them.”
This philosophy on family value is also brought out in his work where he takes pride in seeing his students flourish as they prepare for the professional industry.
“Seeing the change in the students, from first day to where we are now is rewarding. The skills they’ve gained are lifelong. They are a good bunch and teaching them is really enjoyable.”
Each year the students work on building a house so that they can gain relevant skills in their chosen field, a project which Lee loves leading.
“The houses get sold on trademe
. It’s good they get to build real houses so that when they do go onsite they can actually build them. It’s better for the employers and the apprentices – putting it into practise. It’s one thing to read about it but another to actually do it, which makes UCOL investing the time and money in practically building a house invaluable for students.”
Lee has fantastic advice for anyone looking at studying construction.
“Reliability is a big one. Turning up to course each day is important. Make sure you have a genuine desire to get into the industry. It is hard work, you work through the summer and the winter, all elements, but the big thing is turning up. There’s a lot of material to get through in a year and a lot of it is practically based.”
“Come and give it a go. If you like working with your hands come and try it out. It can be a very rewarding career. I have been doing it for 35 years and I still like getting up and coming to work.”