West Coast drilling students are helping the Christchurch rebuild after a downturn in mineral mining.
The students would normally complete workplace training in West Coast mines, but eight trainee drillers are now with Canterbury firms working on everything from foundation piling to geotechnical work and drilling wells.
The students were among 11 to have completed 14 weeks of training at Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP) on the West Coast and yesterday started 10 weeks of workplace training in Christchurch.
TPP drilling programme leader Michele Cox said West Coast mining slowed down in June.
"We have always had a number of students who have gone to West Coast mines, but now there are just no jobs here at all," she said.
"If it wasn't for the Christchurch rebuild, it would be hard to find places at the moment. Mineral work right throughout New Zealand has reduced."
New Zealand Drillers Federation Council president Iain Haycock has taken on four students at McMillan Drilling Services in Canterbury.
The trainees would not all be working on Christchurch rebuild work, he said, but geotechnical work had experienced a boost after the earthquakes.
"Geotech is a new buzz word," he said.
Drilling student Tyler Carmont will help clean quake-damaged water wells on his work placement at Texco. "When I first signed up I thought it would be mineral exploration, but that has gone down at the moment," he said.
TPP student Colin de Goldi, 37, is on a work placement with McMillan Drilling Services and is keen to be involved with foundation drilling. The former meat inspector has decided to change careers.
"Canterbury is probably looking at 10 to 15 years of building work. That is probably the rest of my career, if I'm lucky enough to be involved," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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