Older tradies are teaching the younger generation a few tricks – Western Leader

Featured in the Western Leader.

Bryan Swainson, 72, has no desire to put his feet up in retirement. The Auckland man has been in the painting trade for 50 years, but decided to semi-retire in 2000. Those plans didn't last long and now he worked up to five days a week, tutoring younger tradies.

Swainson was part of the Kiwi Can Do programme in Henderson, which saw a dad's army of older tradesmen mentoring those starting out in the field.

"Retirement is to do what you want to do, and to me that isn't sitting in chair," he said.

He said he only retired because he felt as though people saw him, at 70-years-old, like was taking younger people's jobs.

Swainson said the mentoring role offered a rewarding position where he could share his knowledge with others.

"It is purely an age old thing. Older men and women teaching younger people life skills. And those life skills are building a house, cooking, eating, whatever."

Kiwi Can Do managing director Iain Morrison said the dad's army of retired tradespeople included builders, painters and plasterers.

"They tell me they're sick of drinking tea, watching the history channel or replays of Coronation Street and they welcome an opportunity to get a paid tutoring [role]."

The country was facing huge demand for housing and commercial rebuilds especially in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, he said.

His team was currently recruiting for more retired tradespeople to join the scheme.

Barry Staples, 72, has been a mentor in the programme since it started five years ago.

He said he got to the stage of retirement where he didn't have much to do so took up part-time work, but then discovered Kiwi Can Do.

"[We] have many, many years of experience that we could just pack in and put that knowledge away."

However, now that knowledge was not going to waste.

"There are people that are here to learn the trade, so you teach them some basic skills."

He said he had no plans to retire anytime soon. He would only consider it if he was unable to do certain things and he had to stop working.

Based in West Auckland, Kiwi Can Do trained people to get work-ready for jobs with the mentoring of retired but active tradespeople.

People tended to be involved in the programme in a three-week course and were typically aged between 18 and 30.

Terry Tangi had been a trainee in the programme for a week and said he had already learned some skills.

"I don't know too much about painting and I'm still learning the trade," he said.

"Bryan is very patient and helped me out."

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