A little ministerial might was in play to get Clutha’s new community hub under way on Friday.
Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash turned a ceremonial sod at the site of the former Balclutha War Memorial Hall during a flying visit taking in several locations and formal openings.
Milton firm Calder Stewart is about to begin construction of the new, $15 million, multi› purpose hub, expected to be complete by early 2023.
Education was the focus of a visit beforehand to Te Houka engineering firm Agri Crates and Engineering.
There, Mr Nash attended the official launch of the Southland and Otago Regional Engineering Collective (SOREC) Engineering Academy.
The academy is an industry/ education experiential learning programme for senior high school pupils, helping them gain an understanding of engineering as a potential career opportunity, while remaining at school and completing their NCEA.
The programme was developed after discussions between SOREC, the Ministry of Education, school representatives and engineering businesses, and was established in January, following an initial investment of $495,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund.
SOREC general manager Ceri Macleod said the SOREC initiative was developed ‘‘by industry, for industry’’.
“SOREC [will] promote connections, capacity and capability across the southern region’s manufacturing engineering sector. The Sector Workforce Engagement Programme (SWEP) has helped us get the Engineering Academy off the ground.
The Clutha pilot had been very successful, and she was looking forward to a rollout throughout Southland and Otago.
“It has been fantastic to work with such an amazing group of schools and businesses to get something up and running that will really make a difference for the future of young engineers.
‘‘I look forward to offering more of those opportunities across the region.’’
As he talked with principals from Tokomairiro, Roxburgh and South Otago high schools during the opening, Mr Nash said he would continue to ask the primary industry to look at how to provide career aspiration incentives to young people.
“Secondary students need the industry exposure to make those career choices, and what is happening here in Clutha gives those senior students ideas to think about,” he said.
Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan said it was a pleasure to showcase SOREC’s and the Clutha Community Hub’s success, two great community initiatives fostering growth and innovation in the district, thanks to regional investment.
Mr Nash concluded his visit north of Milton, meeting pupils attending the Tokomairiro High School forestry training programme.