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Aspire2 Trades students meet Employment Minister Willie Jackson (L–R): Viliamu Fotofili, Taumaia Kulu, Willie Jackson, Insure Fatai, Rudi Robinson-Cole (tutor)

Employment minister gives aspiring tradies a boost

Minister of Employment Willie Jackson visited south Auckland trades training school Aspire2 Trades in mid-May, inspiring students to take charge of their futures.


Around 80 students, staff and local iwi attended the event, which began with a powhiri and was followed by a campus tour, giving the minister a sneak peek at the cutting-edge facilities and hands-on training offered at Aspire2 Trades. He saw students honing their practical skills in welding, forklift operation, and painting and decorating – the key programmes currently on offer at the campus.

In an uplifting speech Mr Jackson encouraged students to cultivate discipline, keep striving to reach their goals and never give up. “If you can complete this course and carry on with your learning, New Zealand is going to be all the better for it,” he said.

By enrolling at Aspire2 Trades, students are taking their first steps to rewarding trades careers and will help fill the vast skills shortage currently facing the country’s construction sector. According to officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), 50,000–60,000 more builders and related tradies will be needed by 2022 – and some of those will have started their journey in Wiri at Aspire2 Trades.

Tough backgrounds

Mr Jackson said: “I have heard your stories and I understand that many of you have come from tough backgrounds. I am so pleased that you are making an effort to turn your lives around. No matter how tough your background, it doesn’t mean you can’t change. You will not believe what you can achieve in life with a few disciplines.”

He encouraged students to successfully complete their studies, get to work on time, and be good to their whanau. “If you can do that, you have made it to base one, and that’s what you need to focus on.”

For many of the students, returning to the classroom to upskill hasn’t been an easy feat. Some didn’t find traditional success at secondary school, while others had family and financial issues to overcome, but Mr Jackson urged students to stay motivated and strive to become leaders.

“Leadership is not just about the big stuff, it’s actually more about the small stuff, and we can all become leaders in our own way. Sure, we can’t all become leaders like the Prime Minister, but we can be leaders of our whanau, leaders in our community, and leaders within our relationships. Don’t worry if things go wrong; learn from your knocks, stay determined, and you will get there.”

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