Starting a cadetship programme


Waikato District Council's new cadetship programme is focused on starting small, with two Wintec students to be employed in 2018. The council will increase the number of cadets in the following two years, and is considering how the initiative could be expanded in the future.


A cadetship programme is a practical solution to the skills shortage in industry and the general lack of awareness around engineering careers – particularly the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering and Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) pathways.

In past years Waikato District Council, in common with other local and national government organisations, had a cadetship programme. Political and economic changes in the late 1980s, however, led to its demise.

Tim Harty, General Manager Service Delivery, says cadetships are also a good way to reach out to the local community. “It’s a really positive thing for us to do; it’s important for Waikato and should help Wintec attract more engineering students.”
See Case Study 1: Cadetships - an answer to NZ's skills shortage

Starting the programme

The council is collaborating with Wintec to set up the programme, aiming to create employment opportunities for civil engineering students and recruit more engineers for its own needs.

Photo: roadworksFirst-year NZDE and second-year BEngTech civil engineering students studying at Wintec are eligible to apply for a cadetship to complete the final year of their programme. Council will pay their salary and course costs while they study part-time for two years, and they will be bonded to work for one year after graduating.

The first intake in 2018 will be two students, with two more the next year and again in 2020. “We need to walk before we run,” Tim says.  “By starting small we can ensure things are running smoothly and then look at growing it.”


Collaboration with a tertiary provider benefits both parties. By restricting the cadetships to final-year students, the council can be confident that the cadets are committed to their study, and already have some technical knowledge and experience to bring to the job. Wintec will organise course times to align with the cadetship programme.

Wintec Chief Executive Mark Flowers says, “We’re training students for a rapidly changing world and the practical and soft skills they learn through on-the-job training are critical for their success. Working with industry also means that we continue to be relevant and authentic in what we deliver to meet their needs.”

Tim notes that the council has connections with local engineering employers, some of whom could be potential partners. “We’ve got contractors and consultants interested in the programme. If we get it right we could include other engineering employers, sending cadets to them for rotations where they’d get experiences different to what we do.”


The cadets will rotate around various council teams, including roading, waters, parks and facilities, land development and programme delivery. On-the-job training will give them practical experience in civil engineering, and they will gain skills in project management, managing budgets, ethics and contract management. “Council is considered a perfect training ground for students to develop a range of skills, knowledge and technical experience,” Tim says


Mentoring is a key aspect of the programme, and each cadet will have their own mentor. This will be implemented in a slightly different way than is usual. Rather than asking senior staff to take on the role of mentor, the council has allocated a budget to employ people from other types of businesses, possibly semi-retired or retired engineers. These external mentors will bring different perspectives and experiences to share with the cadets in addition to providing their time and skills to support them.

Expanding the programme

With the programme up and running, the council will then consider how it might be expanded from the planned six cadets for 2020.

Tim emphasises that they want the programme to be running successfully before implementing any changes, but that there are many possibilities.

Other potential opportunities include: opening the programme to students from a range of disciplines; internships or scholarship programmes.

See Case Study 18: Supporting cadets on successful engineering pathways

Our thanks to Tim for his time and advice; if you have any queries please contact

Cadetship infosheet

July 2017