High school students studying construction skills in the South East are getting hands-on work experience by fabricating a key building for the Southern Hemisphere’s largest forest industries expo.

The three day event ‘AUSTimber 2012’ in Mt Gambier next March will showcase the latest in technology, machinery, products and services for the forestry industry. It is being held on a display area in the forest, 15 kms from Mount Gambier, the geographic hub of the largest plantation forest area in Australia.

The Expo over two days on 30th and 31st March 2012 will deliver a dynamic environment to experience the latest in precision forestry technology with live demonstrations, indoor and outdoor displays.

One of the schools developing pre-fabricated sections of an administration facility on the forest floor site is Naracoorte High School, where SA’s first female construction and trades skills teacher Emily Griggs is delivering the ‘Doorways 2 Construction’ program.

Emily, 23, is helping to train our future young ‘tradies’ with Year 10 – Year 12 students from Naracoorte and Lucindale Area Schools.  Emily last year did specialist building trades studies to qualify for the Construction Industry Training Board’s ‘Doorways 2 Construction’ program.

At Naracoorte Emily’s students are working on one of five demountable building modules to be delivered as ‘flat pack’ component segments for a site office, including meeting rooms at the AUSTimber Expo.

“I love the fact that I get to educate young people and provide them with knowledge that not only lets them create individual quality projects but also helps them develop skills for their future,” said Ms Griggs. “That’s why I jumped on board with the Doorways 2 Construction program, because I am a firm believer in what the program is trying to accomplish in education.”

The D2C program in the South East is directly supported by TAFE SA as the Registered Training Organisation which ‘signs off’ students on the skills they acquire. D2C now operates in 25 ‘clusters’ of schools across the State representing more than 40 schools. Around 70% of the 2010 cohort have found jobs and apprenticeships and the CITB hopes for similar results with this year’s group.

The CITB’s Chief Executive, Steve Larkins says: “Instead of making CD racks and coffee tables, these school students are refurbishing whole buildings and working with professional tradespeople to create a future career”.

What is D2C:

  • D2C is a time-proven program of the Construction Industry Training Board of SA (CITB) and the Department of Education & Children’s Services
  • Experience shows D2C students become prime candidates for apprenticeships at the end of the school year
  • The program is delivered by specially trained technical studies teachers and students carry out real construction work under supervision of a licensed builder
  • D2C began in SA in 2000 and is one of the largest, most enduring and successful programs of its kind in Australia. There are more than 900 SA students in the program this year.

Local Community Projects always benefit…

A secret to the success of the D2C program in schools is the hands-on connection with local community organisations that need repairs or building skills, but cannot afford a builder. This ranges from restoring Housing Trust homes in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, through to building totally new transportable homes that are auctioned off at Mt Gambier High School.

The South East is experiencing a renewed enthusiasm for Vocation Education Training (VET) in all secondary schools.  Industry Pathways Programmes (of which Doorways 2 Construction is a part) help address future trade strategies in the South East  and better cater for all students at schools with engagement and experience in industry before they leave school for the work place.

Students have commenced work on the site office and the AUSTimber 2012 General Manager David Quill said the organisers were ‘blown away’ by the generosity of local industry in donating timber product to the D2C students. 

Leading South East businesses such as Whitehead Timber Sales, Gunns Timber Products, South East Pine Sales, NF MacDonnell & Sons, Carter Holt Harvey, Attiwills Home and Industry and Banner Hardware had all donated product.

The AUSTimber 2012 Doorways 2 Construction site office will showcase the skills of the students and the quality of the product used. There has been great interest locally and interstate from businesses displaying their timber flooring products and the site office will be an opportunity to display every type of timber construction products and wall paneling.

AUSTimber 2012 is the world’s only combined softwood and hardwood plantation expo and the biggest forestry and timber expo in the Southern Hemisphere. It is already attracting large delegate groups from North America, Europe and Asia.

AUSTimber 2012 will showcase the latest in technology, machinery, products and services for the forest and timber industry. This biggest event in Mount Gambier has already attracted international interest with 60% of live demonstration forest sites sold.

Media Assistance, Mike O’Reilly, 0414 882 505 / Photos available

The ‘Doorways 2 Construction’ Program in SA Schools provides ‘hands-on’ Trades experience of the construction industry for students in Years 11 & 12

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