Students dig deep to show they're up to the challenge

By Abi Thomas

Tyre-stacking and pouring a teapot by operating a digger were just some of the skills Northland youth were tested on recently by Alistair McIntyre, also known as Doug the Digger.

Mr McIntyre was given the chance to use the New Zealand Contractors Federation site at the Whangarei Summer Show for the inaugural Hirepool Youth in Industry Student Challenge.

The Youth into Industry programme, the brainchild of Mr McIntyre, offers young people the chance to earn NCEA credits while gaining practical skills in industry.

Six boys competed in both practical and written tests, with some completing the programme this year, while others hope to do it next year.

Three diggers were in operation at once, leaving the other three to complete health and safety challenges and conduct a site walk.

"There's no point having people who can do the practical stuff without knowing how to do it safely," Mr McIntyre said.

The attention to detail needed while under pressure was one aspect he was keen to test them on, Mr McIntyre said.

With crowds watching and cheering at the Summer Show, the concentration required in skills like using a digger to drop a golf ball in a bottle was immense.

"I use the example of the guys we've got doing fibre-optics in Whangarei at the moment," Mr McIntyre said.

"You look up, you lose concentration for even a second and there's huge consequences."

The competition was won by Joshua Connolly of Wellsford.

- Northern Advocate

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