Local business sees benefit in supporting school project
Tom Boon, the CEO of Taranakipine is a firm believer in learning by doing and putting theory into practice. That is why
for the second year in a row his company is sponsoring the Taranaki Futures ‘Build a Bach’ project for school students.
The project is an opportunity for local secondary school students to learn skills on a live construction site which will
help them transition into work.
“We always need solid young workers who are suited to a construction and production environment and with this project I
am helping students learn how to do the job,” says Tom. “At the same time this is a good way of promoting my company to
young students interested in working in the industry.”
Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee said of the project “This sort of
collaboration between business and education will ensure that school leavers are highly skilled and ‘work ready’.
Relevancy in education is crucial, and can only be achieved when industry are actively involved in supporting curriculum
decisions. We are encouraging businesses and schools to source similar partnerships around the country. Learning happens
both inside and outside of the traditional classroom.”
Taranakipine provided all of the timber products used to build the bach which 19 school students completed as part of
their Construction & Infrastructure Vocational Pathway. Literacy and numeracy skills were weaved into the practical applications students
were doing on-site, which meant students could earn NCEA credits as they worked.
“I am a huge fan of learning by doing,” says Tom. “That is what we do in the factory every day: we do practical work.
And with this type of learning, students are actually making something using timber; they can see the outcome by
building something real. For some students it is much better than just being stuck in a classroom.
“That is what I loved about taking part in last year’s project - the result was tangible. Not only could I see directly
how our sponsorship had helped, but I could also see that those young fellows were proud of what they had built. I liked
that it was a hands-on project.”
Tom also hosted the students on-site for the day before the project kicked off. The group was shown the factory and
Tom’s team explained the machinery and processes the students would be working with. Students completed an introductory
Health and Safety course before they moved to the construction site. Taranakipine also offers work placements to Gateway
students from New Plymouth Boys Highs School on Friday afternoons. “Again, we do this because some students do better on
a different pathway,” says Tom. “We have seen it work and have had students successfully join as apprentices.”
Warwick Foy, Taranaki Futures co-ordinator, said that last year they had 40 supporting industry partners and
Taranakipine was the first on board, both this year and last.
In 2015 Taranaki Futures hopes to offer two ‘Build a Bach’ projects - one in New Plymouth and one in Stratford.
“The purpose of the Taranaki Futures ‘Build a Bach’ initiative is to offer practical learning opportunities for young
people by involving the wisdom, experience and generosity of the community,” says Warwick. “Firms like Taranakipine have
shown brilliant trust and support of our work because they understand that they have a role to play in developing the
workforce of tomorrow and that learning can take place outside of the classroom.”