24 Oct
24 October 2018

Manfeild programme aiding highway project

Manfeild’s ground-breaking driver training programme stands ready to provide support to the biggest civil engineering project in the Manawatu in many years.

Carving out a route to wholly replace the now defunct Manawatu Gorge segment of State Highway Three is a multi-million dollar impetus demanding a large local workforce, many having to operate specialist machinery.

The Feilding facility’s National Driver Training Centre will facilitate the needs of hundreds of workers desiring to upskill to that level.

“Construction of the Gorge replacement road and bypass are major undertakings to commence by 2020 so there is a real need to employ more people to undertake these projects,” says Manfeild Park Trust chairman Gordon Smith.

Carving out a new section of State Highway Three across the Ruahine Ranges between Ashhurst and Woodville will be a fantastic undertaking, yet the construction phase seems likely to demand more skilled workers than the region can presently muster.

“It is believed at least another 350 workers will be needed for the Gorge project alone, so this is a prime example of the need for us to all get behind industry and ensure students and others seeking employment are able to be part of the development.

“Manfeild, through NDTC, is well placed to assist in this.”

The NDTC concept of being a training hub has received positive backing from the transport distribution, logistics and civil construction industries. Connection with those sectors began with a highly successful JobFEST at Manfeild in June.

“The industry has embraced the opportunity which has given us the confidence to plan for a considerable development to enable this to commence.”

Training in heavy vehicle competencies covered by class two (medium rigid) to class five (heavy combination) as well as class six (motorcycle) licences would be an exciting additional role for a programme whose aim has to date been to provide young students with a car driver’s licence before they reach employment.

That initial ambition has won widespread acclaim and seen 210 regional youngsters achieve restricted or full class one road car accreditation over the past year.

Expansion of NDTC’s core undertaking is taking shape in another dimension, with the Manfeild back track being redeveloped.

The project will deliver a replica roadscape, complete with intersections and a roundabout, to enable new drivers to get a feel for road driving away from the public arena. In addition to this, there will be other areas in which training with light to heavy machinery can be undertaken.

“Once our own facility development occurs Manfeild is well-placed to provide the infrastructure for a variety of driver trainings to ensure plenty of skilled and licenced people are available for those projects,” Mr Smith says.

Pub Charity and Toyota New Zealand have been amazing and generous NDTC supporters in respectively provisioning the funds for the back circuit redevelopment and Toyota Prius PHEV plug-in electric cars for the students to build their skills.

Determination to enhance the NDTC role, comes as regional funding enters a new phase. Mr Smith noted Horizons Regional Council’s determination to step away from regional funding would create a quandary for many community facilities.

“For Manfeild, and other similar facilities, this severely restricts development and growth and appears short-sighted by local government.”

This situation had compelled Manfeild to advance the driver training programme to a scale warranting central Government support.We believe this is our avenue to access a level of future funding that will enable Manfeild to develop.”