Training leads to exciting career options

Training is a big part of the offering of the Frame and Truss ManufacturersAssociation, which has been actively involved in the development and delivery of NZQA approved qualifications since 2001.

The Association has worked closely with the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) in the development of the National Certificate in Frame & Truss Manufacture (Level 3) which was rolled out in 2006; New Zealand Certificate in Frame & Trust Detailing (Level 4) rolled out in 2013 after a lengthy development process; and the New Zealand Certificate in Construction Related Trades (Supervisor Level 4).

FTMA chairman Robert Grimmer says “a whole raft” of the association’s members and their staff have completed the 15-month Level 3 Frame and Truss Manufacture course, which is available through BCITO.

“Unfortunately we have no specific apprenticeship training available as these programmes take a huge amount of work to develop, and as a small sector, our potential audience is a few hundred apprentices at best. However the Level 3 course is a great place to start for anyone interested in joining the industry.”

He says the New Zealand Frame and Truss Detailing Level 4 course is another “critical resource” for the industry.

“This formal qualification assists the frame and truss detailers to take architectural drawings and engineering specifications and convert them to workshop drawings. There is a distinct shortage of people with these skills in the industry, and we hope the new qualification might attract more people into these roles.”

Robert says one of the challenges for the industry is to promote frame and truss detailing as a viable career option.

“Detailers must have a good skill level and mathematical understanding to enable them to create quality workshop drawings that allow frames and trusses to be made, and provide builders with the appropriate information to put them up on site. It is not a career option that is very well known or understood, but it is a priority for FTMA to attract people to the sector and train them.”

He says the size of the industry and association means it is not feasible to do presentations to every single high school in New Zealand about the potential career path as a frame and truss detailer. However the association is working in some areas with training organisations and polytechnics to promote the career opportunity frame and truss detailing offers.

“Some New Zealand Certificates in Architectural Design are also translatable, so we are keen to speak with trainees in these programmes. Some of the people who have come into the detailing role over the years include builders with injuries who can no longer work on the job site or those at a later stage of life who want to get off the tools. We have also had people with the right capability moving into the role from the factory floor.”

Robert says FTMA has continual involvement with BCITO under its new business group structure, which is specifically dedicated to stakeholder engagement and focused on establishing relationships with key industry organisations such as FTMA.

“BCITO has appointed a dedicated industry advocate, Helen Hines- Randall, who is ensuring future collaboration between the industry and BCITO continues to strengthen. Helen is an experienced and valued member of the BCITO team, and is dedicated to working proactively with our industry.”

Apart from the qualifications available through BCITO there is no other specialist training available to the frame and truss fabrication sector.

“Had FTMA not been involved in developing the existing training programmes and qualifications, they probably wouldn’t have been initiated. Our involvement has ensured information is technically correct and the assessment of skills meets required standards.”

Some of the unit standards can be cross-credited to other construction related qualifications, opening other potential career path options, he adds.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is keeping people working within the frame and truss sector. When the building trade is buoyant, staff in our industry are very attractive to builders as semi-skilled labour, as they are well versed in reading plans, operating power tools and putting houses together. Retaining our people through continued training and support will continue to be a strong focus of FTMA.”

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