A significant shortage in the trade sector has prompted Patton Engineering and other local businesses to partner with Hastings Boys' High School to entice the next generation into engineering.

The structural steel engineering business has been taking on up to eight students on rotation every second week for hands-on work experience.

And a new welding workshop with individual welding bays has been installed, adding eight welding machines to the existing one - donated by One Foundation Trust in Rotorua (which funded six), Weldwell (which funded one) and Best Forsythe Electrical (which funded one).

Johno Williams, managing director, Patton Engineering, Phelix Bargh, Hastings Boys' High School, Lawrence Yule, National MP, Tukituki and Graeme Barrett, acting headmaster, Hastings Boys' High School.
Johno Williams, managing director, Patton Engineering, Phelix Bargh, Hastings Boys' High School, Lawrence Yule, National MP, Tukituki and Graeme Barrett, acting headmaster, Hastings Boys' High School.

Managing director Johno Williams said increasing attention to the trades for students will result in growth in the pool of candidates in the industry with a focus on quality workmanship.

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What started out as one-on-one general welding tuition in the disciplines of mig and stick welding has now seen a number of the more experienced students being partnered with qualified fabricators and assisting with clients' projects.

"Our aim is to encourage, motivate and inspire students at grassroots level by giving them real life exposure to the structural engineering industry and with two of the directors being ex-students over 50 years ago the initiative with the school seemed like the logical choice."

A committee has been formed including influential members from local companies as well as energetic teachers, deans and the principal.

With 70 per cent of Hastings Boys' High School students not attending university after school, head of department for technology, Salla Delport, said it was a great way for their students to get exposed to the trades and engineering as an employment opportunity.

"We want the boys to come to technology where they have got various options; building and construction, engineering, and then start focusing on a trade-focused occupation and we can offer them credits to their advantage based on the NCEA curriculum."

Acting headmaster Graeme Barrett said it was all about opening the doors for their students.

"The students are buzzing with excitement over the opportunity to be involved in such an initiative. We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support and enthusiasm of Patton Engineering and the other stakeholders involved in this joint venture."

Patton Engineering has committed to employing two new apprentices each year from the High School as well as subsidising a tertiary engineering degree every year.

National's Tukituki MP, Lawrence Yule, believes the initiative is insightful. "The investment that is being made by Patton Engineering and others into Hastings Boys' High I think is inspirational.

"Here is an industry that has said actually we are crying out for skilled people, we want to give young people a chance and we are prepared to make the investment."