This month 25 school leavers join WSP Opus as cadets through a regional scheme that channel emerging talent into engineering careers. The new recruits will work on transformational infrastructure projects that will reshape and benefit their communities.
Scott Evans, WSP Opus Director NZ Regional Business, says the company’s cadet scheme is a proactive solution to address the ongoing skills shortage.
“There has been a long-term shortage of skills in the construction and engineering sector globally and locally – and the list of sectors affected continues to grow. At the same time New Zealand is investing in more infrastructure than ever before – as well as needing to effectively maintain our existing and ageing assets,” says Evans.
Finding new ways to collaborate and solve problems is imperative, says Evans, and recruiting and training enthusiastic school leavers is one that works well.
“Our work impacts our cities and our families for generations – that’s why it’s so important to have local people who are passionate about the work they do. There are many paths to becoming an engineer and some of our most promising talent in the company has arrived through a cadet or internship. We’ve successfully kept them in the regions and they are now adding immense value to their communities through their work.”
The cadet scheme is extremely successful for WSP Opus, particularly in the regions where the company is a key partner and advisor to local and central government. Evans says it enables the company to be adaptive to changing requirements.
“Cadets are trained to fit the needs of an organisation – which for us is based on the needs of our clients. Our regional offices have materials testing laboratories, design draughting, survey and road network management teams – and cadets are able to train in these in-demand skills.”
Evans says cadetships offer significant advantages for school leavers who want to pursue a career in engineering but don’t want to go to university.
“Because they’re earning while studying, cadets aren’t faced with paying back student loans when they finish their studies. As well as getting work experience relevant to their qualification, cadets can directly see the point of the knowledge and skills they’re picking up in their course and apply it to their work.”
Traditionally cadetships have been a cornerstone of New Zealand’s civil engineering sector.
In fact, the first civil engineering cadet scheme was started by WSP Opus’ forefathers, the Public Works Department, in 1894. The scheme eventually involved 300 – 400 cadets per year through the public sector.