"What has impressed me so much about our home grown trade cadets is the spark in their eye when they can see the opportunities ahead of them.''
Northpower is banking on its own future in setting up a programme which will train 10 to 12 cadets a year.
At its launch in Whangārei on Monday, several people involved in setting up the comprehensive training programme referred to helping address a skills shortage in Northland.
Northpower chief executive Andrew McLeod said he believes it is a ground-breaking community partnership that provides people with careers they might not have had access to otherwise.
"It is also a perfect fit for Northpower's Northland Strategy which is about improving accessibility, opportunity and prosperity for Northlanders by having a positive impact on our community and maximising our regional impact," McLeod said.
With more skills needs and work contracts coming on stream, Northpower had been bringing in short-term contractors from overseas to meet shortages, he said. However, the company's deep-seated commitment to its own community meant doing what it could to train and retain skilled workers was a priority.
''It's a chance for us to give back to our community, it's about access to talented people and strengthening our roots. Our heart is in this.''
The Northpower Trades Cadetship Programme is a pre-apprenticeship training framework that will provide quality employment opportunities in electricity supply, and beyond.
The cadetships begin at private training organisation and tertiary study facilitator People Potential. There they will do a Foundation Course concentrating on life skills, drivers licences and other pre-work preparation, managing director Andrea Ross said.
"I love the fact that the cadets actually gain a qualification before they even start with Northpower. What makes the course unique is the length of it so students aren't unnecessarily rushed and they get plenty of time to embed the important life skills they are learning," Ross said.
Not all the cadets will be young or lacking life skills, but the MSD-supported Foundation Course is a requirement before moving into on-job paid training with Northpower.
A cadet in the first intake which begins on July 1, Liam Davis has worked in IT for several years but is keen to train in a technology-based field such as electricity supply. He said the People Potential component was worthwhile as well as being an entry point.
''We're basically at the bottom of the tier. When we do start [on the job training], we're prepared for that next stage,'' Davis said.
Northpower's training specialist Richie Ashby is leading the programme which includes a NZCES Level 2 course, a 14-week industry course, then a six-month Northpower rotation-training placement - after which paid level four training and job contracts are likely for most.
"We are launching the programme to address a significant, long-term skills shortage in the electricity sector and because we believe this is the best pathway for people to enter the industry and move into paid employment,'' Ashby said.
"What has impressed me so much about our home-grown trade cadets is the spark in their eye when they can see the opportunities ahead of them. There is a lot of talent in Northland and helping develop that is great for Northpower and Northland in addressing a long-term skills shortage.
''The collaboration that has gone into developing the programme has been amazing and I am so proud of what People Potential and Northpower have developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Development and help from the Ministry of Education.
"What the electricity sector teaches you is to think for yourself, to collaborate, work as a team, take individual responsibility – and with that comes the chance to grow as a person. I certainly have. The great thing about working for Northpower is that we've always had good people, great training equipment and the support of our senior leaders to help make these opportunities available."
The first intake of cadets should become cable jointers, arborists, line mechanics, and electricians.
As the Northpower Trades Cadetship Programme becomes more established, the company hopes to provide career pathways for electrical fitters, project managers, engineers and technicians. Northpower will also introduce additional cadets into its Auckland and Central North Island contracting business units.
Minister of Employment and Associate Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson was guest at the official launch of the Northpower Trades Cadetship Programme on Monday.
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