Whanganui-based AGC Training has the ideal opportunity to build on its already popular carpentry programme with the arrival of new tutor Steve McKee.

McKee came out of his apprenticeship in 1976 before spending 21 years in the prison service as a trade instructor, including 10 years at Whanganui Prison at Kaitoke and 11 years in the prison camp at Turangi.

AGC Training carpentry tutor Steve McKee says there's still room for more in his course.
AGC Training carpentry tutor Steve McKee says there's still room for more in his course.

It was during these years McKee honed his skills as an educator, skills that will suit him well in his new job.

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"I left the prison service in 2005 and set up as a self-employed builder here in Whanganui," McKee said.

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"I really enjoy teaching people and in this trade you are constantly teaching with apprentices entering the industry all the time. There's a lot going on at AGC Training and I have 22 students in my class with another five starting after the school holidays.

"The carpentry Level 3 programme is a 10 month course and my intention is to push for more practical application so that graduates are in a better space to begin work. By the end of the course graduates are ready to begin an apprenticeship and/or start training at Level 4.

"The building industry is screaming out for skilled staff and that's what our graduates are. We run a programme in conjunction with Britton House Movers. Our students build transportable houses on-site at AGC Training in Okoia and they are trucked away by Brittons - it's a great arrangement."

Despite the numbers already in training at Okoia, McKee said there was still room for more.

He knows there are many more potential students hungry to retrain after losing their other jobs during Covid-19 lockdown.

By the end of the 10-month course graduates will be adept at using carpentry tools and machinery and have an ability to read and use building plans, apply theoretical knowledge to projects and work competently.

Graduation can lead to a job as a labourer or an apprentice and with additional training and/or experience students may go on to further roles in the construction industry such as a carpenter, joiner, plasterer, painter or roofer.