Workplace experience workshop at MOTAT

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle


Youth into Industry Students were taken step-by-step through the machines. Youth into Industry
Youth into Industry Youth into Industry
Youth into Industry Success story Jake Rouse has recently secured a job with Dickson's Transport and Quarries as a result of his participation in the programme. Youth into Industry
Youth into Industry Youth into Industry
Youth into Industry Students become teachers: the Tai Poutini students provide instruction on the correct use of a plate compactor. Youth into Industry
Youth into Industry A student receives tuition from the man himself. Youth into Industry

Doug the Digger author Alistair McIntyre hosts a worksite induction at the Infrastructure and Transport Educational Day at MOTAT in Auckland, to get youth to join the construction industry.

"As you walk around the site today, keep your hands out of your pockets, and when you meet people, look them directly in the eye — be proud of who you are and greet them with a firm handshake."

So says Alistair McIntyre (AKA Doug the Digger) to a group of 31 students from six Auckland high schools, who are attending a Doug the Digger workplace experience workshop at MOTAT to gain some hands-on experience in the construction, civil engineering, and trucking sectors.

McIntyre's passion and commitment to getting young people into the workforce is infectious to say the least. His enthusiasm has led him to form an organisation called Youth into Industry, involving likeminded company owners who volunteer their time to promote the cause.

These include people like father-and-son team Tony and Logan Collings, who were on hand throughout the entire day, providing the students with valuable advice on maintaining equipment. Fourteen-year-old Logan has taken time out of school in order to impart some of the knowledge he’s gained from his involvement in the family business.

It’s interesting to watch from the sideline and see the respect and attention paid to a young man of 14 by students who are considerably older. Incidentally, there was no texting going on and I didn't see one pair of hands in any pockets either.

Workshop _MOTAT_1

This was a big event, and the success of the day at MOTAT was in no small measure, the result of a collaborative effort between three key individuals.

Paul Swift, MOTAT's education manager, sought the participation of the attending schools, took care of on-site logistics, and coordinated the rotation of the various sessions, while McIntyre called-in several 'friends of the industry' who share his passion for placing young New Zealanders in positions which will, in time, be as beneficial to the country as it will be to the enthusiastic youngsters themselves.

Swift also worked with MOTAT's workshop manager, Murray Wilson, to devise a comparison between a 1960s ACCO Butter Box International truck and RJ Doughty's brand new Mitsubishi Shogun, whereby the students who, much to everyone's amazement, found more similarities than dissimilarities in the two trucks, of which ages varied by some 50 years.

Happily for the programme, the enthusiasm didn't end there, as many other people threw their efforts wholeheartedly behind the event in order to bring such a large roadshow together.

Paula Rogers, executive officer of National Road Carriers Inc, was in attendance, along with David Aitken, CEO of the organisation, who gave an enthusiastic introduction at the induction, emphasising the sobering fact that in order for New Zealand industry to rationalise the numbers in its aging workforce, it needed more young people to come on board.

Operating machines was naturally a big part of the day, where students were able to try their hand, under instruction of course, at operating plate compactors, courtesy of Hirepool, and a CAT mini excavator supplied by Goughs.

Meanwhile, a new Mitsubishi Shogun was also present, courtesy of RJ Doughty Ltd, along with a truck-mounted crane belonging to Hiab Transport Ltd and operated by Dave Iles.

At the opposite end of the demonstration area was a nifty little excavator, accompanied by an impressive array of attachments. This stand was supplied courtesy of MWN Civil Ltd. Owner/director Mark Neilson DOW that it was about giving something back to the community.

Workshop _MOTAT_6

Not only had he volunteered himself and his equipment for the day, he showed his commitment to this philosophy by encouraging two of the students from Tai Poutini Polytechnic's Waikato Digger School to lead the instruction of the proper service and use of his valuable plant.

To add to the realism of the day, Jay, from NZ Drug Testing, had the mobile testing van on site and anyone wishing to take the test was welcome to do so. In any event, the students were taken through the various steps involved in workplace drug testing as a familiarisation of the process.

It is no exaggeration to say the entire event was only made possible by a bunch of selfless individuals who made their time and equipment available for an entire day, in order to hopefully encourage more young people into the workforce.

The true heroes of the day, however, were Alistair McIntyre, his colleague Barbara Busst, and his retired civil engineer dad, Fred, who was also there supporting his son's efforts. These people tirelessly continue to push the envelope, both with their time and considerable financial commitment to this worthy cause.

It's plain to see that the Doug the Digger programme is spearheading the way young people will be introduced to the workforce in the future, as gone are the days when dad could take his son or daughter to work for the day and gain life's experience in the old fashioned way. This is truly the way of the future.

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