Laying the foundations for success

Ensuring your investment in training works for everyone involved; insights from Quentin Stevenson of Slab Specialists.

Slab Specialists Director Quentin Stevenson and apprenticesWith unprecedented levels of building and construction activity generating an abundance of new opportunities for businesses around New Zealand, a key question is how to keep up with demand. Quentin Stevenson, director of concrete slab and foundations company Slab Specialists, has over 20 years’ experience working in the building and construction industry, and is a firm believer in the importance of training to stay on top of the game.

Slab Specialists employs 60 staff and has offices in Auckland and Christchurch, two of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Looking to further expand the business and cater for the ever-increasing demand for specialist foundations, Quentin currently has 15 BCITO apprentices going through on-site training to become fully fledged carpenters and concrete specialists.

Customised apprentice approach

Quentin has created a system of learning that works well for the company and the apprentices, combining onsite, hands-on development with classroom sessions to give his staff the extra edge.

“Every Monday night, we pull all our apprentices into the office for a training session, over and above their work day,” says Quentin. “It’s easy to use apprentices as a labourers, but we try to train them well and get it into our guys’ heads that they are training to be professional builders. Pizza turns up at 6 o’clock, so they know if they want to eat as well, they need to be here on time!”

After the usual three-month trial period, workers get the opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship through BCITO. The combination of Quentin’s rigorous training programme, alongside visits and assessments made onsite by a BCITO training advisor, has created a loyal and highly skilled team. “

They’re getting paid, while being trained on the job. At the end of it, they come out with a recognised qualification that allows them to earn some decent money.”

Specific apprentice support

Slab Specialists also has a dedicated member of staff to support apprentices, over and above the support they get from BCITO itself. “This helps create a good environment of professionalism and it helps them to know that they’re actually achieving something,” says Quentin.

Company benefits

Not only has taking on apprentices satisfied Quentin’s labour requirements, it has also had wider ranging benefits for the company and Quentin’s own personal development. “Training apprentices keeps you on your toes and on top of the latest developments,” says Quentin.

“Some of our more senior guys have huge amounts of experience, but they were trained before computers. What I say to our guys is, if you work 9 to 5 and do no extra training after hours, you’ll stagnate – you just won’t go anywhere.

“The people who make the All Blacks, they aren’t just talented, they work hard to get there and then work even harder to stay there. Business is no different. As a professional builder, you get paid for your labour, just as the All Blacks get paid for playing rugby. However, they put a lot of effort into their training to keep their game sharp and, as a professional builder, you need to do the same.”

Growing your team

If you’re a construction employer looking to grow your team and keen to take on an up-and-coming tradesperson, contact BCITO today. We may also be able to find your new apprentice through our dedicated job matching service.

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