Lindsay Cairns of Masterweave Textiles, front, shows a group of Wairarapa secondary students around his factory as part of Careers New Zealand’s Innovative Industries Big Day Out, run in collaboration with YETE (Youth Education Training & Employment) Partnership Wairarapa, UCOL and Fab Lab in Masterton. PHOTO/GERALD FORD

By Gerald Ford

Around 60 secondary school students on Friday got a peek inside Wairarapa’s innovation industries in a careers day.

The Innovative Industries Big Day Out was run by Careers New Zealand in collaboration with YETE (Youth Education Training & Employment) Partnership Wairarapa, Ucol and Fab Lab in Masterton.

Year 11 students from six schools visited several employers and educators to understand career opportunities and how they use innovation in their industry.

The goal of these days is “to bridge the gap between today’s young people and the needs of employers”, Careers New Zealand Career Development Consultant Liz Gray said.

Our focus on innovation is about promoting learning and opportunities within Wairarapa’s Information Technology, Engineering and Design, and Digital Fabrication industries.”

At Masterweave, owner Lindsay Cairns spoke to the students about working on materials for the Lord of the Rings movies, in alpaca, mohair and wool.

For every item “we had to make every item was made in two scales” because of the different-sized characters in the movies.

Mr Cairns showed how the looms blended different natural colours of fibre such as alpaca.

He said “big companies aren’t interested in doing anything on this scale”, so it filled a niche market including “higher end boutique businesses.”

Maria McKenzie, UCOL’s campus manager – Wairarapa said students visiting Ucol would give students will visit UCOL’s Masterton Campus where they will get a hands-on look at how they can bring innovation into their careers.

“Our world is rapidly changing and new and innovative methods of solving problems is required to meet the needs of today’s work market,” said Ms McKenzie said.

Co-founder and project director at Fab Lab Masterton Kristen Browne said 3D printers and laser cutting technology would keep the students busy as they delve into digital fabrication.

“We’re excited to show our school community how they can contribute to innovation from a local or global level with technology available right here today.”

Wairarapa YETE Project Lead Josie Whaanga said she hoped the day would help inform subject selection at Year 12 and beyond.

“We want school leavers to see that there are multiple pathways into the exciting innovative industries.

“Today’s goal is to demonstrate local employment opportunities and link local schools, employers and industry to grow tomorrow’s talent,” Ms Whaanga said.