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First-ever plumbing block courses for Hawke's Bay

29 March 2018
apprentices apprenticeships

A partnership between Skills and Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) is bringing a local flavour to Hawke’s Bay trade apprenticeships.

The move, which was a year in the making, sees plumbing block courses being taught in the region for the first time. Until now, the closest cities offering the week-long theory-based courses were Hamilton and Wellington.

Skills’ Account Manager Fiona Nelson was involved in growing the partnership. She says, "Not only do the local courses save apprentices time and quite a lot of money, but being away from home for a week at a time is never easy."

The decision to deliver the courses through EIT was spurred on by local employers and apprentices. "The two block courses already held this year went off without a hitch,” she says.

EIT Assistant Head of School Dave McDougall, the tutor dedicated to teaching the plumbing theory, is being kept busy. "We’ve recently been hosting Skills Week and our classes were at capacity," he says. Skills Week goes through the ins and outs of an apprenticeship and fosters work-ready, safety aware apprentices.

EIT’s block courses match the calibre offered by out-of-town training providers WelTec and Wintec, and there’s additional support for those who need it. "When we know apprentices are booked in for a block course, we get them in for a night class ahead of time to make sure they read through the material," says Dave. "The night classes motivate them and give them an understanding of what’s expected from the block course."

Employers are also reaping the benefits. Campbell Devine of Devine Plumbing has been working closely with Skills, providing feedback on course delivery. He has three apprentices signed on for the local block courses and says it's been a hit.

While block courses are currently being held every fortnight, Dave McDougall says EIT are definitely looking at getting a second tutor. With positive feedback rolling in from industry and apprentices, demand looks set to grow, meaning more courses could be on the cards sooner rather than later.

Pictured here are apprentices enjoying Skills Week at EIT.

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