Building a training partnership between the Eastern Institute of Technology and Tararua Community Youth Services has already paid off with 16 young men graduating from the inaugural course.
The students graduated in September from the building and carpentry course in Dannevirke, delighting tutor Campbell Johnston (CJ).
Two of those students have gone to help with reconstruction in Vanuatu which was hit by Cyclone Pam in March.
Students Whare Taingahue and Zac Wadley Te-Ture are there with Todd Rogers, EIT head of school, extending their practical skills.
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"This just goes to show, this just isn't another course, but it opens doors," said Jeanne O'Brien, manager at Tararua Community Youth Services. "This could be life-changing."
The first course was split in half between theory and practical work, with the students also undertaking three community projects.
"The future is looking bright for these graduates," Mr Johnston said.
A new course at Dannevirke's EIT begins at Tararua Community Youth Services on October 19, with the 10-month Level 3 carpentry course designed for those who want to pursue a career in construction. During this course, students will build a 100sq m cottage.
"It's about reinforcing the skills they'll be learning and, as much as we can, it's hands-on," Mr Rogers said.