By: Simon Collins

Auckland is about to get a new $55 million trade training school to help meet the desperate shortage of tradies.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins will turn the first sod today on the new “technology park” across the road from the Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT)’s $100m Manukau City campus which opened in 2014.

All MIT trades training will move to the new park by next July from the institute’s Ōtara campus and its plumbing school in Mahunga Drive, Māngere.

Park general manager Paul Hollings said the facility would start with MIT’s existing 800 fulltime trades students plus about the same number of industry trainees on short courses, but would have space to grow to meet industry needs.

A study in February said the construction industry alone needs an extra 57,600 skilled workers by 2026.

“The potential is good because it’s a clever building. It will be clever timetabling that will enable us to grow,” Hollings said.

“There will be a blend of the old and the new – simulators and hopefully some virtual reality. We’ll be looking to ramp up the technology side of it.”

The 9000-square-metre facility will house the country’s only air conditioning and refrigeration school, our largest industry training school for plumbing, our biggest polytechnic-based electrical trades school, and training for building and civil construction, engineering and automotive trades.

It will be built on an empty site left over after the Southwestern Motorway development, bounded by the motorway, Wiri Station Rd, Manukau Station Rd and Lambie Drive.

Auckland Council’s development arm Panuku ran a competitive bidding process to find a developer to build and own the facility with a 30-year lease to MIT. Northcote-based Haydn and Rollett won the tender and managing director Kim Barrett said construction will start on Monday.

The 9000-square-metre technology park will bring all MIT trades under one roof. Image / Supplied

It will be built on an empty site left over after the Southwestern Motorway development, bounded by the motorway, Wiri Station Rd, Manukau Station Rd and Lambie Drive.

Auckland Council’s development arm Panuku ran a competitive bidding process to find a developer to build and own the facility with a 30-year lease to MIT. Northcote-based Haydn and Rollett won the tender and managing director Kim Barrett said construction will start on Monday.

Hollings said MIT chose the site because it was a large area almost directly above the Manukau railway station.

“There’s no space here [at Ōtara] to build what we wanted to build,” he said. “You have a massive bus interchange and the train [at Manukau], so it’s a public transport hub, so it makes it a lot easier for students to come and go.”

He said MIT was working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about the future of the current southern Ōtara campus next to the Ōtara town centre carpark.

“The south campus will ultimately be vacated,” he said. Other departments which don’t move to the technology park will move to the northern campus in Ōtara Rd.

A new $55m MIT “technology park” is part of Auckland Council’s plan to “transform Manukau”. Image / Supplied

He said the development was approved before Hipkins proposed in February to merge all 16 existing polytechnics into a single NZ Institute of Skills and Technology, after a 19 per cent slump in student numbers between 2010 and 2017 pushed many polytechnics into deficit.

Like other polytechnics, MIT’s fulltime-equivalent roll surged from 5590 in 2008 to 7525 in 2012 when jobs dried up in the global financial crisis, but dropped back to 5930 in 2017 as young people were lured back into the buoyant job market. MIT recorded a $7m deficit in 2017.

But Hollings said the development would go ahead despite the merger.

“Whatever happens, South Auckland needs the facility,” he said. “It’s not about MIT as such, it’s about our community and the construction and related industries.”

Source: NZ Herald

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