City Rail Link provides master class for Kiwi students

Students from Cape Reinga to the Bluff are getting the chance to visit New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project – Auckland’s City Rail Link – without leaving their classrooms.

Video technology will turn the project into a virtual classroom for students from all over New Zealand, allowing them to access videos to see how the project is being built while also highlighting careers available in the infrastructure industry.

At the same time, the imagination of primary, intermediate and secondary Year 7 to 10 students will be tested with a competition for them to design their own public transport station.

“City Rail Link is committed to leaving a strong legacy for New Zealand – we’re a huge and complex project with a lot to show and share – and we’re delighted we are contributing to this classroom initiative,” says Link Alliance project director, Francois Dudouit.

The design competition and the virtual classroom is a collaboration between the Link Alliance, which is delivering the main CRL stations, tunnels, and systems, the Ministry of Education and online education group LEARNZ, part of CORE Education.

“The focus is on Māori and Pacific, and female students. This work is all about opening the eyes of tamariki to the breadth of future pathways they could aspire to,” says Dudouit.

“There is a lack of representation in the construction industry, particularly females. This programme is about helping people see the opportunities, and also increasing understanding of the sector. Construction can be highly technical. It is about problem-solving and delivering for people and communities.”

One of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry is the shortage of people and skills throughout the sector, impacting its capacity to deliver the growing pipeline of construction projects. Women make up only 18 per cent of the construction-related workforce in New Zealand and Māori and Pacific are under-represented in the skilled professions and at leadership level.

CRL’s virtual classroom programme starts on June 8 and a design competition for students kicked off Monday May 24 to coincide with the start of the country’s Techweek. This challenge will continue until the end of Term Two. Classes also get the opportunity to connect with one or more of the experts in a live web conference on June 9 and 10 as part of the school programme. Dudouit will be involved in these online class sessions, too.

“The whole idea of our involvement is to educate students about the CRL and the transformational transport benefits it will bring to Auckland, and to give them a glimpse of the diverse opportunities an infrastructure project of this size provides,” he says.

Dudouit says as well as all the mahi involved in construction, the programme will showcase CRL Māori, Pacific and women workers, and highlight the project’s partnership with mana whenua.