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Partnership supports trades training in North Canterbury

13 December 2019

Switched On has been working alongside the Kaiapoi Community Care and Employment Trust for the past 18 months to provide local access to training and employment opportunities for at risk members of the North Canterbury community.


Through this collaborative partnership, Switched On provides social housing maintenance work to the Trust’s ‘Around Tuit’ enterprise. Experienced tradespeople from both the Trust and Switched On then support trainees to learn carpentry and painting skills on the job. The aim is to assist people of all ages to gain the skills and confidence they need to enter into an apprenticeship or employment.

Switched On Trade Services Manager, Ken Howat explains that the partnership is mutually beneficial. “We get the work done, but we are bettering people’s lives by choosing to support a social enterprise that’s giving a hand-up to at-risk people in North Canterbury. We can offer a guaranteed workflow to groups like the Trust, meaning they can provide consistent training opportunities for the people they support,” he says.

SwitchedOn CommunityCare 04Pictured: Apprentice Matt Hall, mentor Bill Hussey, Ken Howat from Switched On and
Neville Atkinson, Manager of the Trust.

One of the trainees taking part in work through the Trust is Matt Hall. He had a challenging start to his working life and found it hard to hold down a job. Matt has been taken under the wing of experienced tradesperson Bill Hussey, who is teaching him practical painting skills. The Trust is supporting Matt through an apprenticeship to set him up with a lifelong trades career.

Matt says that he has found his experience with Switched On and the Trust to be unlike any other. He says he feels truly supported to overcome his previous employment challenges.

“When I first started, I didn’t know much. But I’ve learned a lot and can now paint a whole house on my own. It’s such a good opportunity to get qualified in a trade, and eventually I can teach other people and give them the same opportunity I had,” he says

Apprentice Matt Hall is working towards becoming a qualified tradesperson through the partnership.

Neville Atkinson, Trust Manager says that support from businesses like Switched On makes all the difference for the Trust and people like Matt.

Having a steady work-flow means that the not-for-profit can remain fully self-funded and continue to provide a sustainable employment and training resource for North Canterbury. 

“Our business is about the people and social outcomes, and Switched On understands that. This initiative is proof that private businesses and social enterprises like ours can work together for the success of the community and the whole country,” he says. 

The Trust not only supports people to enter the trades with the support of Switched On; it also sustains opportunities for retired or older tradespeople to continue using and sharing their skills. The approach benefits multiple generations in the local community and maintaining it is as simple as businesses like Switched On choosing the Trust for maintenance This approach benefits multiple generations in the community, as it provides opportunities for retired and older tradespeople to share their knowledge and continue using their skills.

SwitchedOn CommunityCare 05Matt Hall, apprentice and Neville Atkinson, Trust Manager on the job.

Switched On actively encourages other businesses to make supply chain choices that support social enterprises. Ken explains that instead of donating money, companies can incorporate groups like the Trust into their day-to-day practices for long-term impact.

“This type of ongoing collaboration enables groups like the Trust to continue making a difference to the lives around them,” he says.

Working with the Kaiapoi Community Care and Employment Trust is part of Switched On’s Hand Up Community Programme, which offers at-risk people in Canterbury opportunities to create positive futures through training and work opportunities. The business also has partnerships with addiction recovery service Odyssey House, Kilmarnock Enterprises, Shirley Community Trust, local high schools, and the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO).

For more information, or to get involved, contact our team or the Kaiapoi Community Care and Employment Trust.