Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Social media tapped to recruit jobless youth for building industry

Hawkins site engineer Sapoa Rimoni encourages women as well as men to join Auckland's booming construction industry. Photo / Supplied
Hawkins site engineer Sapoa Rimoni encourages women as well as men to join Auckland's booming construction industry. Photo / Supplied

Big building companies are tapping into social media to try to tempt young unemployed Aucklanders into construction trades.

Fletcher Building, Hawkins, Downer and AWF Madison have teamed up with training providers and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (Ateed) to launch the #BuildAKL recruitment campaign at the annual Auckland Jobfest tomorrow.

It will use Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to reach the 23,700 Aucklanders aged 15 to 24 who were not in education, employment or training in June - at the same time as the construction industry needs an extra 32,000 workers over the five years to 2018.

Sapoa Rimoni, a 27-year-old Hawkins site engineer who features on a recruitment video, said social media was the best way to reach young people.

"I look after youth in our church and I find that Snapchat and Facebook are the way to contact them, they are always on it," she said. "You don't give them a call on a landline. You message them on Facebook or send them a Snapchat."

Rimoni, a mother of two boys aged 9 and 8, said she got into engineering by accident. She initially trained in hospitality, then won a tertiary scholarship to retrain as a carpenter at Manukau Institute of Technology when her boys were old enough.

Hawkins executive Nancy McConnell heard her speak at a tertiary scholarships event and offered her a summer internship at Hawkins. That led to Hawkins funding to do a two-year civil engineering diploma, which brought her to her current job on a major project upgrading infrastructure in the Wynyard Quarter.

She is battling to break down stereotypes that see construction as a man's job.

"It's not for the faint-hearted. It is a very male-dominated field, and you have to be ready to take on those challenges," she said.

"But I do encourage other women to come into the field. There are both positive and negative treatments, and there are people in the industry who have supported me in my journey."

Ateed general manager for business, innovation and skills Patrick McVeigh said the campaign aimed to recruit 4000 young people.

AWF Madison (formerly Allied Work Force) will run a competition to select 10 young people who will get four weeks of paid work experience rotating through up to four work placements each.

They will use the #BuildAKL hashtag to document their journeys to their friends via social media.

"It's a year-long social media campaign with the young people engaged from the outset, and a platform for building activities, using the young people themselves to change the perception of what the industry's about," McVeigh said.

- NZ Herald

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