He's only 26, but foreman Justin Taylor manages a $20 million Taranaki construction site with responsibility for around 50 employees and sub-contractors.

Taylor, now professionally trained in construction management, is the very first BCITO graduate of its new qualification, elevating carpenters to site manager capability.

It's a career which is glowing brighter, shaping as an extremely viable alternative to conventional tertiary education. A construction manager's pay range is $75,000-$160,000, depending on specific roles (source: Careers NZ).

Demand for construction professionals is heavy - the industry cannot get enough people and the shortage means potentially advanced prospects if they follow Taylor's lead in gaining higher qualification like BCITO's National Certificate in Construction Trades (Main Contract Supervision) (Level 5).

Advertisement

The Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) is well known for turning out highly-skilled construction workers from its apprenticeship programme but it's less well known that carpenters have brighter employment prospects with such top qualifications as BCITO's level 5 certificate.

Taylor completed it in January, in just under a year. His employer is Clelands Construction Ltd, a major Taranaki construction company with 65 full time qualified tradespeople, including 15-20 BCITO apprentices at any one time.

Taylor gained experience as a sub-foreman on two of Clelands' multi-million dollar projects - the New Plymouth police station and the recently-completed Len Lye Centre. The company works across industrial, commercial and residential projects, exposing apprentices to a broad spectrum of different types of construction and methodology.

"These projects were a fantastic training exercise for Justin because we've been grooming him since he came out of his apprenticeship to become a site manager," says Clelands director Martin Stephens. "He's motivated, keen to learn and keen to accept responsibility."

In conjunction with BCITO, Clelands are proud of the quality of the well-rounded people they've produced. "Between the two of us, I think we're turning out pretty good tradesmen," says Stephens.

Taylor worked as a labourer for Clelands during school holidays in 2006 and, after attaining NCEA Level 2, left school to continue working for the company. He was offered an apprenticeship by Clelands in August 2007.

He enjoyed the responsibility of being made a leading hand (second in charge) and decided to head higher. With encouragement from his BCITO training advisor, he went on to do the Level 4 Leading Hand and Supervision qualification.

"I felt being placed on Clelands' larger jobs in a leading hand position showed the faith the company had in my ability and future with them, which prompted me to find the next goal to achieve - BCITO's Level 5 Supervision qualification."

Taylor says working as a leading hand on the Len Lye Project was a great time: "The challenges of the site kept my mind growing as I worked under another great foreman in the company who tucked me under his wing and showed me how to run an excellent job. I'm very happy with the way the building turned out; my favourite part was standing all the 30-ton concrete panels that form the walls of the building."

Now a site manager on a major industrial project, Taylor has total responsibility for the programming of works, timely ordering of materials, control of sub-contractors, quality, and health and safety.

He generally works only on weekdays, leaving the weekend free for family and hobbies: "Being able to spend days on end out in the sun and fresh air is a great way to stay fit and healthy and keep the body and mind active."

In his spare time, he enjoys rugby and bodybuilding. He married his wife Kate in November last year, and they will welcome their first child in September. He says the hard work has paid off financially because he was able to pay for their wedding without having to go into debt, and he and Kate are close to purchasing their first home.

He says his skills have been invaluable in helping out friends and family with all things building-related and the organisational and responsibility side of things has transferred into the rest of his life, helping him grow overall.

Taylor enjoys the sense of achievement his career brings, "and being able to drive past structures and buildings and say that you played a major part in making that happen. Being focused in the commercial side of building, I also get to see all the big toys used, like giant cranes, so it brings out the big kid in you."

For more about BCITO's supervisory qualifications, visit http://bcito.org.nz/employers-industry/training-opportunities-supervisors-and-managers/