Ruapehu's construction sector is providing opportunities for students in the Taumarunui High School trades academy.

They are taking on real projects and gaining real-life work experience.

The Ruapehu District Council (RDC) property team was struggling to find any spare capacity within its normal commercial contractors to reinstall playground equipment that was saved from the 106-year-old Kakahi Primary School when it closed in April 2016.

Property team leader Rebecca Van Orden said that the Kakahi Community Group salvaged the equipment and following a recommendation from the ward committee, the council approved the development of a new community playground on a road reserve area.


"That was over a year ago and although we had the funding available, local commercial builders were too busy to start the project anytime soon," Van Orden said.

"The situation has however provided a great opportunity for council to support the students in the [Taumarunui High School] trades academy with a real job."

Trades academy carpentry tutor Steve Kernot said that having a real project for the students provides them with invaluable experience that cannot be replicated in a classroom.

"In addition to developing practical skills and on-the-job decision making ability, it is a great way for the kids to get their name out there and to show prospective employers that they are good workers and are reliable," Kernot said.

"We want to get the kids to know what it is like to work on a real job, under a real boss, with the goal of them ultimately getting permanent employment.

"The kids are showing that when they are given a real project they are on time, working well, and all they need is some direction and a chance.

"The academy is looking forward to working with council on similar projects in the future."

Mayor Don Cameron said that developing the skills and talent needed as a region and as a country in youth was critical and something all organisations should be thinking about.


"Despite there being worker shortages in many areas young people often have difficulty in gaining employment because of an incompatibility between skills and requirements.

"Council as part of the mayor's taskforce for jobs is committed to helping provide pathways for students to connect from education to employment wherever we can.

"This project is a good example."