Teenagers dig operator training

Local teenage boys were so keen to learn about trucks and machinery that they gave up school holidays to attend the Youth into Industry training programme in Whangarei.
Large companies were impressed with the boys' enthusiasm and supported Youth into Industry by providing top-quality instructors to help the teenagers achieve NZQA accreditation for unit standards.
The training programme has got off to such a good start in Whangarei that organisers are considering applying it in other Northland centres, with the possibility of taking it national.
Youth into Industry was conceived by Alistair "Doug the Digger" McIntyre and Whangarei police Senior Constable Craig Kennedy, who streamlined the concept after bringing into the team administrator Belinda Woods, Peter McInroe of Supna Consultants, David Muir from Whangarei Quarry Gardens, and Kamo Lions Club members Colin Twiman and Fred Russell.
They ran a pilot scheme at the end of last year which convinced Kamo, Tikipunga and Whangarei Boys' High Schools of the value of the project and the green light was given to nine boys enrolled for last week's school holiday course.
Schools at Panguru, Taipa and Kaitaia have shown interest, but the Whangarei operation will be perfected before the concept is tried elsewhere.
The project has some big muscle backing from the civil contracting and trucking industries. Mr McIntyre said companies were responding to the boys' eagerness to learn and were providing training which could help them find future employment.

imagesWe're starting a Gateway experience where students could go from school one day a week and work in industry toward gaining unit standards.

"We're also trying to organise Christmas holiday jobs for the boys.
"There's no guarantees, but this sort of experience could be a big help when the students are looking for jobs after leaving school."
Whangarei Boys' High School student Elemoni Moana, 17, expected the training to help him with his intended work as a mechanic. "It's good hands-on experience," he said.
And Doug the Digger makes it clear he's not instructing the boys from the high intellectual ground a schoolteacher may have earned. "For self-development, you have to tune up your strengths and weaknesses," he told them. "At age 37, I went back to primary school to learn my A, B, Cs and 1, 2, 3s, so don't be afraid to ask for help."

Written by Mike Barrington and originally published in the Northern Advocate, May 3, 2011.