Mosaic made by tiling course graduatesTwenty six men at Rimtuaka Prison are the first to earn new industry-recognised trade qualifications that could help them into employment on release.

The men graduated with the new NZ Certificate in Allied Trades qualification specialising in tiling and plastering this week. The two 17 week programmes are delivered in the prison’s trade training workshops by WelTec tutors.

Rimutaka’s Assistant Prison Director Kym Grierson says the partnership between Corrections and WelTec means prisoners can achieve qualifications and skills that meet industry needs.

“We have worked with WelTec to ensure programmes that are delivered at Rimutaka Prison address the needs of the construction industry and this includes house-building and related trades.”

“We’re also excited to be part of the new industry-focused New Zealand qualifications.”

It’s the first time a tiling programme has been run in the prison.

“The men have gained hands-on skills that could lead to apprenticeships in areas where there is a recognised skills shortage,” says Ms Grierson.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony in the prison’s trades workshops, Neil McDonald Head of Construction WelTec and Whitireia told the men, “You are the first graduates in New Zealand achieving these brand new qualifications.”

“You now have qualifications that are directly related to industry needs.  You have shown perseverance at something that is not easy.  Employers need work-ready people across the construction industry.”

Stuart Boyce, General Manager of Wellington tiling company All About Tiles was on hand to view the men’s work at the graduation ceremony.

“Tiling and Plastering are really good trades to get into.  I can’t get trades people at the moment so it’s great to see these 26 men graduating with a New Zealand qualification.

“These qualifications are recognised by industry and signal to an employer that you have the right skills and attributes to make a positive contribution on day one of employment.”

A graduate of the plastering course, Mark*, said it was his first trade course, and he was proud of his qualification. “I completed my [plastering] booth and had a little cry because I’ve never really accomplished anything before. It’s a really good trade.”

Other graduates were equally appreciative of the programme, with one saying, “Thank you WelTec tutors.  We have something more valuable for our lives.  We are grateful to our tutors for sharing their skills with us.”

Twelve prisoners gained the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) Allied Trades – Tiling.

Fourteen gained the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Trade Skills (Level 3) Allied Trades – Plastering.

“Both trade programmes have a large practical element with a theory base to ensure graduates meet workplace capabilities,” says Neil McDonald.

WelTec tutors teach trades and technical skills including literacy and numeracy in the prison workshops supported by Corrections’ custodial officers.

The programmes that prisoners complete and the qualifications gained in prison are the same as the external programmes delivered by WelTec and Whitireia at their campus in Petone and Porirua.

In the last financial year 3,894 qualifications were achieved by prisoners nationally. Just under 2,000 prisoners participated in trades training.