Technology helping to improve equity in the construction industry

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Rhys Williams is a BCITO training advisor, now in his fifties, whose life has been impacted by severe dyslexia.
Rhys Williams is a BCITO training advisor, now in his fifties, whose life has been impacted by severe dyslexia.


Estimates are that 10% of the New Zealand population have dyslexia. This sometimes-debilitating learning disability makes it difficult for individuals to read and write, regardless of intellectual intelligence.

Dyslexic people often have strengths in big picture skills such as problem solving, creativity and high-level conceptualisation — all skills well utilised in the construction industry.

In the past, there was little understanding and limited support for people with dyslexia, but this has changed for the better, unlocking new opportunities.

Working as a qualified tradesperson in the construction industry not only requires sound technical skills, but a strong ability to comprehend and use words, numbers, and other sources of information.

Apprentices must undertake a rigorous programme of theory to demonstrate they can build the homes and infrastructure New Zealand needs.

Improving equity for disabled learners

As the country’s largest training provider for the construction industry, BCITO | Te Pukenga is committed to improving equity and participation in the sector, particularly for disabled learners. One area where the organisation knows it can help its learners is with dyslexia.

The BCITO has provided 16 of its apprentices and training advisors with C-Pen readers.

These state-of-the-art devices scan and read words aloud in a natural voice. They can also define words, and do not require an internet connection. The devices have proved so popular that the BCITO has ordered an additional 16 of them.

Rhys Williams is a BCITO training advisor, now in his fifties, with dyslexia. His life has been impacted by severe dyslexia to the point that whenever he visited a restaurant, he would order a steak because he could not read the menu.

But a raft of new technologies, including the C-Pen, has improved his quality of life significantly.

“The C-Pen is a valuable tool to use when I need help reading text. I have introduced it to several of my apprentices with dyslexia who have had a massive jump in self-confidence.

“It has really helped people that would have otherwise fallen through the gaps,” Williams says.

Manton Parker-Knight is a BCITO carpentry apprentice in Waihi who also has dyslexia. Throughout his schooling he needed reader-writers, but was introduced to the C-Pen by his BCITO training advisor.

Massive difference

“It has made a massive difference. I use the C-Pen for studying theory and reading building plans. It has allowed me to be much more independent and confident in my work.”

The BCITO is committed to helping learners with dyslexia through their apprenticeships.

Learn more about what support is available for you at https://bcito.org.nz/resources/literacy-support.

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