FUTURE’S SO BRIGHT
Steve Scott is a man who knows how to put things together. Gordon Brown reports.
New Plymouth businessman Steve Scott is best known for his work on the Len Lye Centre.
For many the exterior is the undoubted star of the gallery and is surely the most photographed building in Taranaki.
The stainless-steel mirror-like facade boasts 17 panels, which are 14m high and weigh a total of 32 tonnes. That led many to predict the controversial Andrew Patterson-designed building would be a disaster – if it could actually be done - Scott and his team at steel fabricating company Rivet ignored the public debate and just got on and did it.
Rivet’s work has rightly won the New Plymouth company many accolades and awards, but Scott himself remains refreshingly down-to-earth.
Clearly Scott is a man who enjoys a challenge, which explains why he recently became the chairman of Taranaki Futures.
He succeeded Graham Wells, who chaired the organisation for the first four years of its existence and Scott was quick to pay tribute to his predecessor
‘‘He was one of the people who laid really good foundations for Taranaki Futures and much of the credit has to go to him, and New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young who originally came up with the concept.’’
Scott believes Wells had a succession plan in place all along. ‘‘He asked me if I’d be interested in going on the trust, which I was happy to do so, and 12 months later he retired and I became the new chairman,’’ he says with a chuckle.
Although Taranaki Futures has become a permanent fixture on the Taranaki training landscape these days, it is worth reminding ourselves just what it does. Taranaki Futures’ website gives a succinct description.
‘‘It is an organisation that links educators, families and wha¯ nau and industry.
It connects people and organisations that have a role in enabling everyone within Taranaki to have a clear understanding of the employment and career pathways available to them.’’
As with all the other trustees, Scott gets paid ‘a big fat zero,’ he says.
‘‘I do it because I love it,’’ he says frankly. ‘‘And we’ve got a great board of trustees, a really good cross section with industry, finance, marketing, public relations and education all represented.’’
So what prompted Scott to get involved in the first place?
‘‘I guess it goes all the way back to when I was leaving school and I had no idea of what was on offer. Unless you were going to university, you were left to your own devices.
‘‘Thankfully today our young people have a lot more opportunities available to them, but we just need to put those in front of them.
‘‘We’re a trades-based business, and whether it’s engineering, plumbing, electrical or whatever, we have to try and retain our young people for our profession or career.’’
Scott said retaining our young people brought numerous benefits.
‘‘We need them, because it’s about strong communities and that’s part of our mission statement, ‘stronger people, stronger employment, strong communities’.
‘‘If young people get a job they like it makes a difference to the place. It’s important people understand that doing a trade or a practical career can be just as rewarding and fulfilling.
‘‘It’s good work that pays good money and it can be fun – you don’t have to be a lawyer or an accountant to succeed.’’
To prove his point, Scott cited the number of boats at the port that obviously belonged to tradespeople.
‘‘If you go down to the boat ramp at the port on a Saturday have a look and see how many boats are behind trades vehicles. They’ve made enough money to buy a boat and they’re out there doing it.’’
Scott is a strong advocate for the region. ‘‘The councils and Venture Taranaki and everyone has created a really good place to live but we’ve got to keep our young people here, we don’t want them to leave.
‘‘If they do their training here, they’re more likely to come back to work here later on.’’
Taranaki Futures is best known for its Build A Bach projects, but Scott insists there is far more to the organisation than that.
‘‘For the last three and a half years Graham Wells and his group did a great job building the base, but now we need to deliver a strategy that lets people know what we deliver outside Build A Bach.
‘‘It’s only one of nine programmes that we run, and many of the other eight most people wouldn’t know – including me when I started on the trust.’’
A strategy has been decided on for the next 12 years.
‘‘While Build a Bach is a key part of what we do, we have other successful programmes which don’t get the same profile. They include: Accelerator, Yes, Maori Pasifica Trades Training, and much more.’’
Again everything hinges around those all-important partnerships. ‘‘It’s very much about connecting young people and educators with industry, so there are direct connections. It’s a two-way thing.’’
‘‘It’s the first organisation like it in New Zealand and people are taking notice.’’
As far as partnerships are concerned, every community in Taranaki has a vested interest in the success of Taranaki Futures.
And if there is one person capable of uniting them all for everyone’s mutual benefit, it’s most definitely Steve Scott, after all he specialises in achieving the near impossible.
The Taranaki Futures board of trustees is: Steve Scott (Chairman), Mark Bowden, the Spotswood College principal is the deputy chair; Martin Baker, Tegel’s general manager for the lower North Island; Michael Braggins, a director of Cleland Construction, noted Maori academic Will Edwards, Witt chief executive Barbara George; real estate agent and entrepreneur Blake Habib; Feats owner and Tertiary Providers Taranaki chairwoman Cheree Menzies; Lisa Sammut the Taranaki regional manager for TSB and Andy Watt, the General Manager Sales & Marketing for New Plymouthbased transport company TIL Freight, are the other trustees.
Steve Scott is the new head of Taranaki Futures.