Otago Polytechnic has acted on the Government’s call to develop “shovel-ready” projects, proposing two multi-million-dollar developments aimed at stimulating and supporting economic activity in our city and region.

A proposed Engineering, Building and Construction Trades Training Centre at Otago Polytechnic’s Dunedin campus is estimated at $31.7 million. If approved, the project could begin within a matter of weeks and would likely employ around 200 tradespeople and construction management and consultants until its completion in mid-2022.

Another large-scale project, an Automotive and Related Trades Training Centre in Kaikorai Valley, is estimated at more than $7 million.

“Just as Otago Polytechnic has much to contribute to vocational education in New Zealand, we also acknowledge we have a part to play in an economic recovery,” Phil Ker, Otago Polytechnic Chief Executive, says. “The Trades Training Centre project is significant to both the local and national construction industry as major contractors seek to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID lockdown.” To date around $4 million has been committed for planning and professional fees for the three-storeyed Trades Training Centre, which would be sited at the heart of Otago Polytechnic’s Forth St Campus, The project would be resourced largely by local tradespersons and companies; construction materials would be sourced by one of the national construction material suppliers; and specialist equipment for the internal fit-out would be sourced both locally and nationally.

“The indirect benefits of this project are also significant – i.e. the supply of qualified tradespeople for the construction industry,” Ker says. “Future projects in Otago and Dunedin include the new Hospital as well as major construction and infrastructure projects planned by the Dunedin City Council and University of Otago for the next 10 years. “All these will require a significant increase in qualified tradespeople, including those already in short supply. This includes trades not currently being taught.

“Otago Polytechnic is already a major training provider for engineering and trades – regionally and nationally,” Ker says. “We have worked closely and collaboratively with many businesses and partners over many years, developing strong relationships. “We continue to listen to and collaborate with industry in the region.”

A recent example is Otago Polytechnic’s Heavy Automotive Engineering facility, which opened late last year in Kaikorai Valley and specifically caters to new automotive programmes aimed at meeting the demands of industry.

“We are now looking to build on that initiative with an Automotive and Related Trades Training Centre, estimated at more than $7 million, on the Kaikorai Valley site,” Ker says. Construction activity could begin within weeks, subject to consent and approval, and the project would likely employ around 40 tradespeople and construction management and consultants for up to a year.

Comprising one level plus mezzanine, the 3600sq m facility is a joint project with Ohara Holdings Ltd, which owns the land and would invest around $3 million to construct the building “shell”, then lease the facility to Otago Polytechnic, which would contribute around $3.5 million to complete the fit-out.

The purpose-built facility would deliver Automotive, Engineering and related trade qualifications and sit alongside Otago Polytechnic’s Heavy Automotive Engineering programmes.

“It would provide additional capacity for Otago Polytechnic to deliver Modern Apprenticeship Programmes (MAPS), supporting on-job training with industry, supported by theory classes and block courses delivered from the new facility,” Ker says, adding the same would apply to the Trades Training Centre.

“This is an expanded activity for which Otago Polytechnic would take responsibility from 2021-22 onwards, as we assume the role of Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) as per the Government’s ITO sector reforms and the formation of the new NZIST.”

An economic impact report released last year showed the direct value of Otago Polytechnic’s Dunedin campus to the city’s economy had risen by more than $40 million over five years, increasing from $136.5 million in 2014 to $179.4 million by 2018.

“We believe that Otago Polytechnic’s success can, in considerable part, be attributed to our innovation,” Ker says.