Trainees prove their mettle

Three newly-qualified welding and fabrication students have found full-time employment at D&H Steel thanks to their hard work – and help from their MPTT navigator.

Robert Rudolph, Valusaga Iopu and Atanasia Galiga were offered jobs at D&H Steel after demonstrating their work readiness skills through unpaid work experience during the last few months of their course.

Work experience is a great way to get to know potential employers and show you’re ready to be hired. Although it’s usually unpaid, you’ll get valuable experience to add to your CV – or even better, a job offer at the end of it.

Well connected

It’s tough finding work when you’re just starting out and have no contacts in the industry. That’s why the MPTT programme ensures trainees aren’t doing it alone.

Each trainee has a navigator who’s there to offer advice, mentoring, and help finding employment.

MPTT navigator Tu Nu’uali’itia, from Oceania Career Academy, took a small group of trainees along to West Auckland company D&H Steel so they could see what life on the job would be like.

“We all met and travelled out together,” says Tu. “I prepared them beforehand, such as making sure they were ready to ask questions about the work and apprenticeships.”

The visit turned into an informal job interview, with D&H Steel offering the trainees valuable work experience.

“The guy showing them around got an inkling that these are quality guys, so he said yep, you can start working here. He said, ‘You won’t get paid and it’s 10-hour days, but if you want to be here you can come.’ All the trainees signed up.”

Robert, Valusaga and Atanasia made time to do one or two days of work experience each week for the last three months of their course.

Showing spark

Work experience is a great way for trainees to show an employer they’re ready to work and have a positive attitude.

“It makes it easier to get the job,” says Valusaga, aged 29. “The boss knows you’re a hard worker and can see you’re keen.”

The trainees quickly impressed their future boss with their enthusiasm and willingness to work, says Tu.

“They just wanted to get out there and work, and even took on some night shifts to check it out.

“Because of their attitude, the boss was very happy. He said, ‘These guys you gave us are amazing – they’ve showed their colours and commitment and I’m happy to offer them jobs’. He could see they were work-ready so he picked them up.”

Work experience is one way to show your value as an employee and get started in a trade, and the hard work can lead to much bigger things, says Tu.

“These trainees have families and they’re working really hard to do something big. So they bought into the idea of personal sacrifice. They’re driving their own futures and will one day be able to get qualified and start their own businesses.”

Amped to work

Valusaga, who is now working full-time at D&H Steel, had been working at a general engineering company as a labour hand. When he heard about the MPTT scholarship, he decided to gain his New Zealand Certificate in Mechanical Engineering.

He stopped working while he was studying, which became more difficult when he and his wife had a baby on the way – a daughter now age 5. But Valusaga saw the value in doing work experience to build his skills, get to know a potential employer, and get his foot in the door.

“I saw the environment at D&H Steel was really good. They’re really friendly and the manager, Cameron, was real good to us.”

Valusaga – whose mother is from Saleimoa on the Samoan island of Upolu and his father from Sale’aula on the island of Savai’i – now has his sights set on an apprenticeship, which he is due to discuss with his new boss after three to six months of full-time work.

Valusaga Iopu
Valusaga Iopu with his wife and daughter

“It worked out well,” says Tu. “They’re starting jobs and will eventually move into apprenticeships.”

Ongoing support

Even now that they’ve earned full-time jobs, these hard-working trainees will continue to be coached by Tu. This will help them to continue to advance in their careers.

“That’s the beauty of navigation,” says Tu. “Because we build trusting relationships with the trainees, we can actually see their shortcomings. So we can always be telling them the areas they need to improve and we can speak that into them.

“We look at the person, not necessarily the skills. Hopefully if they’ve got a dream and a goal, we just encourage them to keep aspiring to that.”

He says the trainees have put in the hard yards and are now reaping the benefits – and as a navigator, he’ll continue to offer his support.

“I just want to encourage them that they can do it and I think that’s where the navigation comes in. Our role is to keep telling them they can do this. Then they know they’re supported so if they fall over, they know there’s someone there to help them back up.”

D&H Steel workers
Cameron Rogers (D&H Steel) second left, with MPTT trainees from left, Robert Rudolph, Valusaga Iopu and Atanasia Galiga – at D&H Steel’s facility in Henderson


5 steps to smash your goals

Smashing your goals
Do you dream of owning a house, running your own business, or making enough money to help out your whanau?

Whatever your biggest dreams are, you probably won’t get there by going through the same old routines. You need to stop and make sure you’re working towards the future you want – rather than just working.

According to MPTT navigator John Kotoisuva, the key to being unstoppable is to get fired up about where you’re heading in life.

“Life should be exciting. Trapped inside everyone is a leader. A leader knows what they want and where they are going; a leader has vision of a preferable future.

“But not everyone becomes the leader they could be, because they’ve been programmed not to dream big.”

So how do you get to where you want to be in life? Follow these steps to achieve your goals and make your dreams a reality.

1. Visualise your dream

Goals should take you closer to the life you want. So before you decide what your specific goals are, take some time to picture where you’d like to be five years from now, says John.

“You’ve got to set your own goals for the way you see yourself living in the next five years, especially after you become qualified in the trades.”

Knowing where you want to end up is the key to motivating yourself to set and achieve your goals.

“When you start something in life, it’s your faith and determination in your dream that will get you to finish it,” says John.

“When you visualise what you want your future to look like, you get turbo-charged emotionally because you’re excited about where you want to be.”

So think about what you want your life to look like – not just your career. That includes where you want to live, the lifestyle you’d like, and how you want to spend your time. Also think about the legacy you’ll leave behind. Ask yourself, what would you like your grandchildren to say about you?

“If you set your mind to that, you’ll become unstoppable,” says John. “I’ve seen young people put that vision in place, and nothing can stop them. They just keep going because they want to get there.“

2. See your trade as a vehicle

If you want a career in the trades industry, you’ll obviously need to choose a trade to learn. But the trade itself doesn’t have to be your dream or your passion – it’s a way of achieving the future you want, says John.

“You’ve got to see your trade as a vehicle that will take you into your future and influence the quality of your life”.

“The trade is not the beginning and end of everything. It’s your journey in life that must be important to you and will be the biggest motivating factor for you.”

Remember, a trade involves practical skills you can learn – so it’s not about being a naturally talented tradesperson.

“The trade needs to be put into its proper perspective, because no-one was born to be a welder,” says John. “Welders are made, carpenters are made. And people’s careers do change along the way.”

3. Make a plan

Now it’s time to get practical. Think about where you are now compared to where you want to be in the future. What steps can you take to achieve your dream, and when would you like to do this by?

“It’s very powerful when you have that vision and you smack a date on that dream,” says John.

“You need to have a plan. The gap between where you are now and what you want in the future is called the plan.”

You don’t need to know all the steps right now – you just need to know what to do next to move closer to your dream. For example, if in five years you want to be your own boss, your next step might be choosing the trade you want to learn, and then completing a pre-trades course. As you go along, the next steps will become more clear to you.

The key is to focus on growing your skills and the value you have to offer. Even if your goals require you to earn plenty of money, the best way to achieve that is to focus on personal growth and building your skills, says John.
“Money is just a by-product – it will follow if you’re good at what you do”.
“You increase your pay as you increase your value as an individual. To increase your value, you need to grow as an individual.”

4. See challenges as a learning experience

No matter what you’re working towards, there will always be difficult times.

When we journey towards something new, it’s never easy,” says John. “It’s always an uphill battle because we’re going into new territory that we’ve never been before.”

So when you face challenges, it’s important to keep your dream in mind. Picturing the future you’re working towards will remind you why it’s worth the challenge.

“What can get someone to quit is when they start focusing on the difficulties and lose sight of their vision and where they want to go,” says John.

And remember, challenges are also a sign that you’re growing as a person and working towards something worthwhile.

“You will never escape hurdles and challenges. Like they say, no pain no gain. Challenges are a sign that you’re gaining. You never grow in your comfort zone.”

5. Stay flexible

No matter how great your plan is, you’ll probably need to adjust it along the way. That’s because as you grow, your goals will likely change too.

“When we journey along in life we use a certain vehicle, such as a trade, to move into the future,” says John. “The most exciting thing is when you move from one vehicle to the next, you discover more about who you are and what you’re capable of doing.”

So when you’re no longer feeling challenged, it’s time to make a change. For example, after getting qualified as a carpenter and working for someone else for a while, it might then be time to take on the challenge of being a self-employed contractor.

“When you start to plateau – when it’s become just a job and no longer challenges you – that’s when it’s time to move on,” says John. “That takes you to another level and it’s exciting, because there are new challenges.”

So if you start to get bored with your work, be open to making changes to your plan.

“Who knows what the future has in store for you? It’s such an exciting thing to take on new challenges and grow as a person.”


Qualified! Hawkins Māori & Pasifika Apprentice Scheme

Earlier this month, we celebrated four of our trainees becoming qualified tradesmen under the guidance of their respective mentors in the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice scheme.
Bo Waitere

Bo started his electrical apprenticeship in December 2014 with Caldwell & Levesque Electrical and now proudly has his own C&L van as a qualified electrician.

Jerome Holland

Jerome started his electrical apprenticeship in December 2014 also with Caldwell & Levesque Electrical and again proudly wears his new title of a qualified electrician.

Qualified electricians, Bo Waitere and Jerome Holland
Bo Waitere, left and Jerome Holland, right, with their mentor, Graeme Cox
Mackenzie Buchan

Mackenzie started his carpentry apprenticeship in March 2014 with Livefirm Construction and recently completed his apprenticeship with Hawkins

Certified Carpenter Mackenzie Buchan
Mackenzie Buchan, right, with his mentor Paul Wikiriwhi
Aarona Kingi-Paparoa

Aaron started his carpentry apprenticeship in December 2012 with Livefirm Construction and completed his last few years with CLM Carpenters. 

Certified Carpenter Aarona King-Paparoa
Aarona Kingi-Paparoa with his mentor, Richard Hughes

These boys had their own trials and tribulations to battle throughout their apprenticeship and have come out on top! Each of them should be so proud. Ngā mihi nui to all our mentors for seeing the boys through their apprenticeship adventures! 

C&L Apprentice of the year

In another win for the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice programme, Talmage Park has won the 2017 C&L Apprentice of the Year award. Talmage is pictured above receiving the award on-site from Stuart Caldwell. 

Caldwell & Levesque Electrical currently employs over 30 apprentices, six of whom came to us through the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice scheme.

Talmage has done extremely well this year in all facets of his apprenticeship: academically, with his unit standard sign-offs; and with his work on site. He is a positive but humble young man with a ‘can do’ attitude and is a very worthy recipient of this award.

Upon receiving the award Talmage said: “I can’t wait to show my mum”. What a great response from this young man with a big future!

C&L Apprentice of the year award winner Talmage Park
Congratulations to Talmage Park, pictured left, receiving the C&L Apprentice of the Year Award from Stuart Caldwell