Cakauniqoliqoli fulfils mother’s dream

Elenoa Cakauniqoliqoli, during field-work. Picture: SUPPLIED

Encouraged by her mother, 23-year-old Elenoa Cakauniqoliqoli set her mind to pursue a career in the construction industry as she neared the completion of her secondary school education.

After completing Year 13, Cakauniqoliqoli enrolled for the Trade Diploma in Quantity Surveying offered by the College of Engineering, Science and Technology (CEST) at the Fiji National University (FNU) in the TVET stream.

Originally from Serua Island, Cakauniqoliqoli comes from a family of engineers, and she wanted to follow a blue-collar profession.

“Both my parents Semi Vakalalabure and Vasenai Vakalalabure have studied mechanical engineering. So I received a lot of encouragement from them as I set out to pursue my studies. Growing up, I was always told that there is no job which is less suitable for females,” Ms Cakauniqoliqoli said.

“My mother saw the potential in me and my interest in mathematics during secondary school days. It was then when she encouraged me to learn the trade to become a construction industry professional with expert knowledge on construction costs and contracts,” she said.

Cakauniqoliqoli graduated from FNU in 2018 and currently, she works as the Quantity Surveyor Technician at Rawlinson Jenkins PTE Limited in Suva.

“The skills that I have gained from studying Quantity Surveying includes being able to read and understand plans, understanding the different types of measurements such as the bill of quantities, material listing and elemental analysis. It has enabled me to monitor cost planning activities and manage construction projects.”

“Quantity Surveying is a challenging field, but I am grateful that I have a steady source of motivation that drives me to do my best in my profession,” she said.

“It is one of the most important professions in the construction industry since we play a vital role in any construction project. Secondly, it is an interesting field where you get to travel to a lot of places for site visits and inspections. This is where you get to meet engineers, architects and managers to help develop your networking skills.”

Cakauniqoliqoli said through this technical and vocational education training she was able to gain a variety of skills and knowledge across multiple disciplines.

“So in Quantity Surveying, you are a part-time architect in terms of reading plans, a part-time lawyer in terms of contract laws and regulations, a part-time engineer in terms of assessment, a part-time accountant in terms of dealing with financials on cost estimation and a part-time business manager in terms of managing a project. With more experience, you have, the more opportunities for leadership positions in the future.”

“I would encourage incoming students to enrol in this programme because Quantity Surveying is a profession that is growing in demand in Fiji,” she said.

Reminiscing her days in FNU, the quantity surveyor technician mentioned she was able to learn from skilled teaching staff and developed many transferable skills that were vital for a wide range of jobs in the industry.

“I chose Fiji National University because it was the only institution in Fiji that offered the Quantity Surveying program. FNU qualifications are more recognised in the construction industry because of the industrial attachments that we get to undertake for six months, before graduating,” she added.

“If I had to return to FNU for further studies, I would like to pursue a double degree which includes the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) major in Civil Engineering and Business. I believe that I need to undertake multi-skilling because it offers a diverse career path which provides high marketability in multiple engineering and business areas.”

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