Encouraging diversity in the Wairarapa

Paul Southey, Director of A1 Homes Wairarapa, is a staunch advocate for diversity in the construction sector.

Paul Southey

While not a builder himself, Paul works with leaders and business owners to foster an inclusive environment for tāngata from all backgrounds.

“I trained and started my career as a teacher. My role was focused on supporting students through the Gateway programme, which supports students to transition into employment. I learnt about the opportunities the construction sector offers, and with a keen interest in renovations, decided to move into it myself.”

He opened the Wairarapa branch of A1 Homes in 2006. Since then, he has developed over 700 homes across the region. While Paul works in the sales side of the industry, he engages with building companies and their apprentices every day.

“I think a BCITO apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity to learn an advanced skillset and develop a strong understanding of the construction sector. It comes with personal development and travel opportunities and can lead to a career in upper management.”

Paul is passionate about making apprenticeships accessible for everyone. He is a strong advocate for BCITO and encourages people of all ages and stages to consider an apprenticeship. “I travel the Wairarapa talking to young people about the sector. It’s important they know that there are other opportunities besides university. And we need to ensure that a diverse array of people of any gender, ethnicity or background are considering apprenticeships. Everyone can contribute to and enjoy the success of our sector.”

“It’s also humbling to meet the wonderful wahine who are succeeding in our sector. They have such passion and fantastic stories to tell. One painting business I work with recently hired three women, who are all doing fantastically well.”

Paul’s efforts don’t stop there. He is also on the Master Builders Residential Working Group, which aims to encourage more Māori and Pacific peoples into apprenticeships.

“I work with several Māori and Pacifica businesses across all trades. They have a wonderful mindset focused on what their work can bring to the wider community, rather than the singular individual. There is also a clear emphasis on passing on the skills they learn within their BCITO apprenticeship to their whanau.”

BCITO needs more people of all backgrounds to consider a career in construction. Find out more about apprenticeships.