New NPDC bridge puts Taranaki students on a career path

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It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a partnership of industry, education and NPDC to help our young people build a bridge to a career.

Building the new Camden Street footbridge over the Huatoki River has given eight secondary school students from around New Plymouth District valuable job skills and the option of a future in construction when they leave school.

The students worked on the bridge almost every Thursday over nine months, learning about design principles and how to handle the tools and materials.

The training programme was a partnership of NPDC, NZIHT School of Engineering, Energy and Infrastructure, WITT, Fulton Hogan, WSP and Taranaki Futures, while Whitaker Civil Engineering and Downer Group helped find tutors.

“The old bridge was at the end of its life and we saw an opportunity for our Taranaki Talent Pipeline careers programme to support much-needed training in the expanding infrastructure and construction sector, while giving some of our young people on-the-job skills and a solid grounding in health and safety,” said NPDC Group Manager Planning and Infrastructure David Langford.

“As the project leader, NPDC can save costs in the long term by ensuring high-quality workmanship which will extend the lifespan of the new bridge. We hope these students will find rewarding careers and help us keep building a Sustainable Lifestyle Capital and maybe lead similar projects to pass on their skills in the future.”

The eight students came from five schools -- Inglewood High, Francis Douglas Memorial College, Spotswood, Te Kura and Coastal – now have their names on a plaque at the bridge to celebrate the partnership and their training experience.

William Faoagali, a student at Francis Douglas, said the project had shown the students “a good pathway that suits us best and uses our abilities” and together they had achieved their goals.

“I enjoyed all the laughter and memories made. It really showed that in a work environment like civil engineering and infrastructure that no matter what culture, religion or colour you are, we are all willing to accept one another,” said William.

NZIHT Programme Manager Jan Kivell said the project couldn’t have had a better group of students and she felt proud watching their confidence grow.

“The collaboration between WITT, Fulton Hogan, WSP and NPDC was fantastic and demonstrated what can happen when different organisations come together to achieve a common goal,” said Mrs Kivell.

With the success of the “Build a Bridge” project, the Taranaki Pipeline partners are looking at other possible projects to expand the training programme.

The students are:

  • Marcellin Baiteke
  • William Faoagali
  • Lochlan Hemingway
  • Cortez Hotene-Joseph
  • Xavier Marshall-Brown
  • Itibwebwe Nganga
  • Hunta Ryder
  • Caleb Terry