Manawatu’s new $10m state-of-the-art trades building will be open as planned on 12 March for UCOL trades students.
Local building company McMillan and Lockwood have pulled out all the stops to make sure students enrolled in UCOL’s Trades programmes this year start their studies in their new facilities in Princess Street. The Trades building will be open for business on 12 March, with students spending their first day learning about and exploring their new environment.
Members of the public and regional industry representatives will also be invited to view the new facilities – the region’s largest trades training centre – later in March.
The new building covers 5,315 square metres, with shared space and enough room for students to build several houses. It contains the very latest industry-fit equipment and allows UCOL teaching staff to combine traditional skills, hands-on project-based learning with new teaching technology, including phones, I-Pads, YouTube and video.
Dean of Trades and Technology Kelly Gay says the facility represents a whole new way to deliver trade training at a time when skilled tradespeople are in high demand. “New Zealand faces a massive and imminent shortage of trade’s people. Our new facilities will allow our future students to be involved in building real hands-on projects while ensuring that they get the traditional Kiwi trades expertise. At the same time we have to do it faster and get these students into work as quickly as possible.
Modern learners want to move ahead faster and new and powerful technology allows that to happen. Kelly says students will be encouraged to use their phones to take photos or video to record their own project work. “Learning happens in many places, and future students will be able to get credit for work experience by capturing evidence of their experience wherever that happens. This also helps students get jobs. Trades people prefer to see actual experience and skill in potential employees. “A mobile phone fits nicely on a tool belt and is a very powerful tool in its own right,” he notes.
Kelly knows this is not just a new building. “It’s a space that allows students to discover solutions to all sorts of projects they’ll be challenged with. They’ll be able to apply what they are learning from experienced lecturers, collaborate with others and think about how that develops into something real and workable. For example, trades such as automotive, engineering, panel and paint can all work on different aspects of putting vehicles together. The carpentry and joinery classes will be able to build houses under cover.”
“In short, it’s a building with a purpose,” he says. “We’re giving students greater opportunities to get a job by providing them with excellent training tools, skilled and knowledgeable teachers and a simulating work environment – improving the quality of the qualifications they earn – and their value to employers.”
Paul Booth, Project Manager for McMillan and Lockwood says the facility creates a new environment from a mix of existing buildings, renovations and new features. The project is part of UCOL’s move to strengthen its buildings against earthquake risk and Paul says the new buildings are structurally strong and have consumed a staggering amount of concrete and structural steel in the making. “This $10m investment by UCOL to ensure the safety of staff and students while creating a leading edge learning space is admirable.“
Architect Brian Elliott says staff and students will find the new space open and flexible, allowing for a mix of trades to work in the same space and share projects. High ceilings allow equipment to be hoisted, stored then moved and lowered into place where and when it is needed. Brian says the building is similar in look to UCOL’s buildings over the road in Princess and King Streets. “The trades facility makes a strong statement about UCOL’s investment in the area and to the 4,000 plus students each year that study at the Palmerston North campus.”
Students on UCOL’s programmes in Furniture Making & Design, Carpentry, Joinery, Automotive Panel & Paint and Automotive Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Welding, Trade Skills will use the new facilities, as well as students studying with the U-Skills Trades Academy, and night class trades students.