Industry awards have become an important way to recognise and honour individuals or companies who have made a significant contribution.
Across a two-year timeframe the wider concrete industry celebrates its own success in terms of ready mixed concrete, finishing and placing, engineering and architectural features, as well as its contribution to a sustainable built environment.
“In doing so we shine the light on a wide range of professionals, including concrete technicians, mix designers, operational staff and placers, as well as builders, architects and engineers,” says Rob Gaimster, chief executive of the Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ).
Yet until this year, there is one group that has been neglected in terms of recognition – the industry’s people in training.
However, that is all about to change with the introduction of the inaugural Concrete Apprentice of the Year Award that will be presented at the New Zealand Concrete Conference in Auckland in October, he says.
“While our industry is busy promoting the importance of training, we should take time to acknowledge the effort of current apprentices, as well as the support offered by their employers.”
With an ageing workforce, he says it is a priority for the wider concrete industry to ‘train well and train appropriately’ in order to secure strong future prospects.
“Trainees need not necessarily be young people but rather those who have a desire to expand their skill set and become qualified professionals.”
“In saying that however, it is important to understand Generation Y (15 to 35 year olds) will make up a significant proportion of the workforce by 2025. Young workers need a reason to stay in the industry, with apprenticeships, mentoring and recognition helping greatly in this regard.”
The Award is open to all trainees enrolled in Level 3 and Level 4 Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) concrete qualifications.
“We are pleased to be working with BCITO to identify the best-of-the-best in terms of concrete industry trainees,” says Rob.
There are currently 350 apprentices in the industry and like most trades the concrete sector hopes to attract more ‘good, keen young people’.
“We are trying to encourage young people to enter the industry and believe the Award will help us do that, as well as promote concrete as a great career choice. It is an industry with a wide range of pathways. For example, a technician could work their way up to becoming a technical manager or even production manager at some facilities.”
Another high profile set of honours to be presented at the annual Concrete Conference is the 2016 Concrete3 Sustainability Awards, which acknowledge those who have adopted sustainability as a core business strategy.
The awards, in their eighth year, are open to anyone from architects, designers and engineers to contractors, builders and clients, and encourage responsible design, building and operating practices across environmental, economic and social considerations.
Winners are selected in five categories: Excellence in Residential Concrete Construction, Commercial Concrete Construction, Civil Concrete Construction, Concrete Innovation, and Concrete for the Community; from which a supreme winner will be chosen.
The 2015 Supreme Award went to Warren and Mahoney for the EA Networks Centre in Ashburton, a multi-purpose indoor sports and aquatics complex.
Rob says the award celebrated the way the Christchurch architectural firm incorporated concrete as a cost effective and resilient solution for the Centre’s simple concept of a single linear space, housing a stadium and aquatic facilities at each end.
“The judges applauded Warren and Mahoney’s use of concrete to achieve durable permanence, thermal efficiency, an attractive aesthetic, as well as space flexibility. It is a stunning building that has deservedly won several other awards.”