Nick Currie likes school, but his favourite classroom has no walls or roof and his favourite school uniform is a hi-vis vest, hardhat and steel-capped boots.

The 17-year old St Laurence’s College Year 12 student  has spent most Wednesdays for the past three months dressed in work gear at the West Village development in West End.

Nick’s site visits are part of his trade certificate studies at the Gold Coast School of Construction (GCSC) that has one of its five south east Queensland campuses at West Village.

Nick wants to be a plumber.

The Gold Coast School of Construction is a Registered Training Organisation started in 2011 by one of Queensland’s best known construction firms, Hutchinson Builders – which is celebrating its 105th birthday in 2017.

Hutchinson’s “Build 8” program is a school-based, pre-apprenticeship program funded by the Queensland Government as part of its alternative learning pathways. Since 2011, more than 900 trainees, including school students, have undertaken one of the GCSC pre-trade courses, with an impressive 90% completion rate.

GCSC West Village Curriculum Coordinator/Trainer Rai Malisauskas said the purpose of the program was to expose young people to the construction community.

“The Build 8 program brings school kids one day a week onto a live construction site for a 30-week course which includes 160 hours of structured workplace learning, a personal development program as well as Green Skills training,” said Rai.

“Upon completion, graduates achieve a Certificate 1 in Construction which means they can get a white card that allows them entry to any construction site in Queensland and sets them up for a career in the industry if they want it.”

At West Village, the GCSC expects to put about 80 students through its different courses each year.

In 2017 so far, 22 students have participated from a range of Brisbane schools including St Laurence’s College and Brisbane State High School, St James College (Spring Hill), St Patrick’s College (Shorncliffe), Coorparoo Secondary College and Glenala and Springfield Central State High Schools.

For Nick, his future is in plumbing and construction and the West Village campus experience has only reinforced that dream.

“I’m proud to be part of the Hutchinson program and my aim is to learn a trade so I can learn about the construction business,” said Nick.

Rai said about one third of the West Village campus students were school based, with the balance being adults of all ages seeking to learn a trade or change their career.

“Here, we want our students to receive an academic and employment outcome – we want them to get a job,” Rai said.

“The Cert 1 teaches students the basic competencies and our on-site training allows them to spend time with different trades to determine their own pathway.”

Rai said there were 78 trades in construction, which offered plenty of opportunities for students, and that 15 of this year’s West Village GCSC graduates had secured employment, including three with West Village sub-contractors.

“What is really rewarding is the tradies often hire our students after they have seen them at work on site as part of the certificate training,” he said.

“For those who want to work, the job offers are very good.”

Future plumber Nick Currie certainly hopes so.

Read more about West Village here.