Scholarship boosts digger dream

Scholarship boosts digger dream

Top of the south civil engineering and roading contractors say there are good job opportunities in the industry, and for those who don’t want to wield a shovel for the rest of their working life.

Malcolm Edridge, the chairman of the Nelson-Marlborough branch of Civil Contractors New Zealand, says a scholarship awarded to a Nelson man shows that young people wanting to get ahead in the industry do have a career path to success.

The association has selected Andrew Chalmers, a student at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), as its 2016 scholarship recipient.

Andrew is one of 120 NMIT students who have won scholarships worth more than $250,000 to help with tuition fees. The scholarships were presented to Nelson students yesterday (Tuesday) while Marlborough students have their ceremony today.

Scholarships have been awarded to students in programmes ranging from winemaking and business to beauty and aquaculture.

Andrew Chalmers says he’s living the dream of driving large road-making machines and hopes his study will lead to starting his own contracting business.

He says he wanted to drive a digger from the age of four when he saw a roadworks gang working outside his home. He was inspired to follow a career in civil contracting work after working with Fulton Hogan after the Canterbury earthquakes, driving machines to repair roads, bridges and buildings.

He returned from Christchurch to his hometown of Nelson to begin studying at NMIT and is now midway through a Diploma in Engineering (Civil). He says the $1,500 tuition payment has come at a good time, with wife Gina expecting their first child. “My time out in the field showed me how to build while the study is giving me a lot more of the physics and the reasoning behind the ‘why’ of construction.”

His objective now is to keep operating big road machines, move later into a supervisor role and, eventually be a project manager. “Hopefully one day I’ll own a few machines in my own contracting business.”

Civil Contractors NZ branch chairman Malcolm Edridge says Andrew is an example of someone who’s prepared to study to get ahead.

“We want young people coming through to know there is a career pathway. It may start with a shovel but it can progress through machinery operation to a successful career. There are lots of opportunities in the main centres for people in and even regional centres are busy. Companies are always looking for experienced, qualified people.”

Scholarships have also been sponsored by: Constellation Brands, Nelson Pine Industries, King Salmon, Kaiapa (Uncle) Jack Kohe, Pene Ruruku, Toss Woollaston, Blenheim Lions, Garden Marlborough, Marlborough Zonta and Uncle George Martin.

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