MPTT helps Māori and Pasifika become leaders in the trades industry. As well as paying your course fees, we’ll give you one-on-one mentoring to grow your career, and help you find work in your chosen trade.
If you’re Māori or Pasifika and aged 16-40, you could qualify for our scholarships. Let us know you’re interested by filling out this form, and we’ll be in touch.
David Parsons is of Ngāpuhi decent, his marae is Taheke, he whakapapa’s to the Pou whānau. At MPTT he is our Kaitohutohu Ahumahi.
David has almost 20 years of experience with the BCITO (Building and Construction Training Organisation) helping people navigate the trades. He is delighted to join the MPTT project team so that he can give back to the sector he loves and help support Māori and Pasifika into trades.
David’s role is as an industry connector. He’ll be supporting tauira, providers, and employers to ensure strong, smooth progressions from pre-trades training to apprenticeships and beyond.
He’ll help MPTT tauira take their next step once they have completed their pre-trade course with their navigators who together will help them find employment and an apprenticeship.
His long experience in the industry means he’s seen how much success spreads when trainees commit to the trades.
“Those who stay the distance to get qualified become sought after successful employers who inspire others to join the trades. This tuakana teina relationship is special to Māori and Pasifika and is immensely powerful.”
David acknowledges that it can be a challenge to persevere and get qualified, but he says the long-term gains are worth it.
David is here to help anyone who wants support seeing their apprenticeship or apprentice all the way through.
David also wants to encourage more Māori to step forward and put themselves out there. By doing so they can receive the support they need to succeed in the trades. “It’s about making things better for Māori and Pasifika,” he says. With David on the team, we’re sure to do more of that than ever.
Getting qualified in the trades is a path to a secure and satisfying career, and it can also be a stepping stone to even further advancement. Whatever your trade, there are plenty of opportunities once you’ve completed your apprenticeship. Whether it’s getting recognition as a master of your field or learning to supervise and manage, the opportunities are as far-reaching as your imagination.
Once you’re qualified, out working and ready to advance in your industry, you can level up with a Certificate in Business Skills First Line Management. It’s suitable for current or aspiring managers or supervisors in a range of industries, including Automotive, Transport & Logistics, Drilling, Mining & Quarrying and Gas, Hospitality, Engineering, Fabrication and more.
Below, we’ve listed more of the exciting advancement opportunities for taking your career to the next level, becoming a manager or even your own boss.
Big steps to becoming the boss in your trade
Jodi Franklin from MITO says completing your apprenticeship is just the beginning. Graduates can go on to specialise in advanced fields of work with qualifications such as Electric Vehicle Level 5 or the new suite of Level 5 automotive programmes in Light, Heavy Vehicle, and automotive Electrical (being released in 2023). If you’re interested in leadership, the New Zealand Certificate in Business can be a pathway to a management position or increase your skills and knowledge.
“We actually have scholarships advertised now that include Māori and Pasifika categories, so it’s a great time for people to consider what they would like to do next.”
In the construction industry, there are also training opportunities to give you the skills to become a supervisor.
David Parsons of BCITO says the Level 5 Certificate in Construction Trades — Supervisor recognises your ability to manage people and job sites, tender for new work, decision-making and much more. There are many opportunities to own your own business in construction when you equip yourself with the right knowledge, practical abilities and people skills.
Licenced Building Practitioner
The Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) scheme requires building practitioners to be licensed to carry out or supervise work that is critical to the integrity of the building. This kind of ‘restricted building work’ concerns homes and small to medium-sized buildings. Gaining your LBP Licence means you can carry out more complex work, including:
Once you have completed your electrical apprenticeship, you can look ahead to the National Certificate in Electrical Engineering (Advanced Trade) L5. This programme is ideal if you’re a registered electrician looking for an advanced qualification to develop your electrical, business and overall leadership skills.
ETCO offers the Master Electricians Competency Course for registration or renewal of a practising licence for electricians, electrical apprentices and electrical workers. It covers updates and changes to electrical legislation, supervising trainees, first aid and much more. Find out more at ETCO.
Once you’ve completed your hairdressing apprenticeship, advanced cutting and colouring training allows you to take the next step. With the advanced colouring course, you are able to work as an advanced professional hair colourist within a commercial hairdressing salon or as a self-employed stylist in a variety of settings.
Advanced cutting training equips qualified hairdressers to provide specialist cutting services and advanced techniques. These qualifications will set you up for operating with complete self-management when cutting hair. To find out more, visit HITO.
In hospitality, great managers aren’t born; they’re trained on the job. Some of the courses that can help you do this are the Team Lead Savvy Award – Level 3, New Zealand Certificate in Business (Introduction to Team Leadership) and the New Zealand Diploma in Hospitality Management – Level 5.
All qualified paint apprentices can apply to attend a sponsored Master’s Course. This will teach you about running a painting business, including costing, measuring, staff management, employment relations and health and safety.
You’ll learn about:
present and future trends in the paint industry
the role of the architect within the industry
industrial relations, employment obligations
management of a painting contracting unit
colour and its use within the industry.
Gaining experience running small to progressively larger projects within an established company and this learning will help you if you wish to start your own painting business.
Qualified plumbing apprentices have opportunities to advance their careers with both the First Line Management qualifications and with specific industry training through Master Plumbers. Examples of topics included are Contract Law and Dealing with Consumers.
To become a Master Plumber, you need the highest qualification available and are responsible for making sure the company’s work is done competently. All Master Plumbers members have a certifying tradesperson on the team and undertake quality assurance reviews of their business practices.
All MPTT students have the support of an MPTT navigator, which not only sets our programme apart but also sets MPTT students apart when they start work. Our Navigators mentor students every step of the way through their studies so they graduate work-ready and poised to thrive.
We spoke with Navigator Makahn Warren-Chapman to hear more about what MPTT Navigators do. Makahn, who is Samoan, Māori (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Whakatōhea, Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāi Te Rangi) and Irish, loves what she does. She sees her work as a way to give back to her community in South Auckland, helping people build new futures for themselves.
“In a nutshell, I hold a mentor role for students who are studying to become tradespeople. I’m here to ensure that they’re ready to leave their studies work-ready and they can start their careers,” says Makahn.
“The scope of support that MPTT offers through Navigators like me is quite wide. We’re there for students when they first start their pre-trades training, through to when they graduate, as they seek employment and find a placement in their chosen trade. We give face-to-face support, one on one meetings, and group workshops.”
A major goal of MPTT is to nurture more Māori and Pasifika into leadership positions, and this means setting them up well from the beginning. It includes helping people build confidence and know how to perform at their best.
Navigators walk alongside students
Makahn says she and her team consider the whole journey so they can give the right support at the right time.
“We offer specific support at different times during people’s study. For example, in the first part of the year, we start by getting to know the MPTT ākonga, what their goals are, and how we can make that happen by building individual pathways.”
Navigators support ākonga to identify anything that might stand in the way of their progress so they can help them make a plan to get past any obstacles. This includes things such as getting a driver’s licence and arranging childcare.
“One of the things we have identified is that people might not know how to write an effective CV, so we’ve developed a workshop that can assist with this. We also offer workshops about how to manage job interviews.”
Navigators help find and fix
Navigators are ready to advocate for ākonga in whatever way matters most.
“Sometimes people struggle just to put food on the table. So, we can connect them to food banks or food parcels.” Makahn says she’s also helped students understand what support options they might have for things such as devices.
“There are a few schemes that can help students with devices. We support ākonga to get their application for those and fill them out. We also help push their applications forward. We know that a lot of the time, our Māori and Pasifika students are kind of left on the outskirts and don’t know how to advocate for themselves. So, we do a lot of that.”
There’s one piece of advice she gives to every Māori and Pasifika student.
“Don’t be scared to ask for the support that you need. Some of us can be humble, and we tend to shy away from asking for help. But that help is available. And not only that, but providing support to MPTT students is our whole purpose as Navigators.
Plenty of pathways to explore
Makahn says an important part of her work is raising awareness of what potential pathways are available. Trades training can unlock a huge range of options.
“There are so many opportunities within the industry for Māori and Pasifika – more than people might realise.
“Some people have the idea that studying trades leads to only specific roles such as becoming a sparky or mechanic, but there are so many different pathways that open up. We work hard to help students gain awareness about all the career options training makes them eligible for.”
When students are ready to start work, the Navigators can help guide them through the process of gaining employment. Navigators act as a link between training institutes, students, and industry so they understand where job opportunities are and can help with placements.
Makahn says it’s important to consider the fit between the trainee and the employer. Navigators look at the culture of the workplace, what kind of support is offered, apprenticeship pathways and much more.
Once there’s a job offer, Navigators can help explain what it means. They can talk through how it might compare and expectations. This can give both ākonga and their whānau reassurance about their direction.
But the support doesn’t stop there. Navigators stay in touch as people settle into their positions, and graduates remain part of the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training community. There’s always useful information, opportunities, development and help on hand.
Adventure awaits the ambitious
“One of the things I’d like for Māori and Pasifika people to know is that there is just so much out there. If they’re willing to do a little digging to create networks with others and maybe even step out of their comfort zone, they’ll find the opportunities they want.
“As a profession, the trades are evolving so quickly, and there are so many different roles and responsibilities within each area. It’s not an industry that’s stagnant – it’s always growing.”
And that’s why Makahn wants to see more trainees join the MPTT programme, to help them gain a qualification and build a career that will give them a stable and rewarding future.
Kalib Lewis grew up working on cars, and his hands-on skills helped him quickly land an automotive apprenticeship. But he put the theory side of his training on the backburner for a few years – until he found out he had a baby on the way. Find out how the added motivation of fatherhood has led to huge changes in Kalib’s life, from getting qualified and becoming a foreman to buying a home for his whānau.
Growing up in Auckland with parents who did dirt track racing, Kalib knew his way around an engine from a young age.
“I’ve been working on cars since I was in nappies. I was always around speedway and dirt track racing and stuff like that. I was born into it, really.
“My parents knew basic stuff about cars, and they’d just get the job done and make it work. So, sometimes we had no idea what we were doing – we’d just pull it apart, see how it works and put it back together. ”
This practical background served Kalib well when he started officially training in the automotive trade. With a recommendation from his tutor at Manukau Institute of Technology, he quickly landed an apprenticeship (managed by industry training organisation MITO) with Davies Motors in Manukau.
However, the theory side of his apprenticeship was a challenge at first
“It was hard, especially because I was working 45-hour weeks at the time. So I’d go home and think, ‘I don’t really want to do this because I’ve been working on cars all day’. I’ve also got dyslexia, so reading and writing is not really my strong point.”
But after a slow start with his bookwork, Kalib found a powerful source of motivation to get qualified.
“I had a son on the way, so I was like, I need to get qualified. I need a pay rise and I need to get this done.”
“And that was the majority of my motivation in the end, was my son. Just to get my apprenticeship done and out of the way, because I wouldn’t have time later on – like, I’d have to juggle time with my son and being at work.”
Crossing the finish line
With his son turning two in September, Kalib (Ngāpuhi) has now been a qualified mechanic for around a year and is the workshop foreman at Auto Xcellence Ltd in Manukau.
“Getting qualified was a big relief. It was a huge weight off my shoulders. You never realise how much of a weight it puts on you until you actually get qualified.”
Kalib’s whānau are proud of his achievements, both in the trades and on a personal level.
“I’ve changed a lot over the past few years, and they’re stoked with where I’ve ended up. Believe it or not, I used to be a little devil child that used to go out and get in fights and stuff. My son’s sort of calmed me down and helped me realise there’s more to life than just myself.
“I’m a better person for it. Like, you live and you learn, and I know what to look out for now. And when my son came along I realised I wanted to be better for him. Even I’m surprised how much I’ve changed.”
With his qualification under his belt, Kalib’s higher income helped him and his partner to purchase their first home in Manukau.
“We’re in the final process of signing our house contract. We’re actually building on the back of my partner’s parents’ place. So that’s how we’re getting into the housing market.”
Saving the money for a house didn’t come naturally, but the 23-year-old set his sights on the goal and worked with his partner to do what was needed.
“I was one of those people that lived paycheck to paycheck. I just threw money around and didn’t really care. But with my son coming along, the priorities changed. It’s not all about me now.”
Knuckling down and saving money has allowed the couple to get set up for their future, says Kalib.
“We’ve achieved so much in the last year since I’ve been qualified, it’s ridiculous. But most of that comes down to, honestly, working long hours and saving money.”
“I took a year off racing and was like, ‘this is the goal we’re saving for’. Once we’re in our own place, I can start racing again.”
Having finished his apprenticeship, Kalib is now part of a small team at Auto Xcellence, where he’s learning how a business is run and how to work with customers.
“When my boss is away, I run the place. It’s sort of the next step. And then probably after that, the next step for me will be starting my own business. That’s a five-year goal.
“For me to own my own business one day, I have to see how a small business runs. It’s a big change from being in a corporation where you’re not dealing with customers regularly. My job now is more of a family environment. You get to know the customer on a more personal level rather than, oh, we’re just servicing your car.”
Part of Kalib’s role has been learning how to invoice customers, which often involves working within what the customer can afford.
“Being in a low socio-economic area, It’s been a big eye-opener. The customers can’t always afford for everything to be done. So, it’s being able to work with the customer as well.”
Success in the automotive trade takes dedication and patience, says Kalib.
“You have to enjoy what you’re doing and be dedicated to it. I’m big on enjoying what you’re doing, otherwise don’t do it at all. Don’t just half-arse it; you’ve got to be fully committed to what you’re doing.”
“It’s about learning how to be a mechanic, not a part fitter. Because anyone can be a part fitter, but to be a good mechanic takes some time and some problem solving.
“Often with diagnostic stuff, you’ve got to be patient. You’ve got to follow the systems that are in place or follow whatever the service information says. And you have to be dedicated to be able to find the fault and not give up and put it in the too-hard basket.”
Now that he’s qualified and working as a foreman, Kalib is keen to focus on enjoying life with his whānau while he builds up experience in his trade.
“I just want to live life how it is. I used to be a person who took everything to heart, but I know now that life’s life and you can’t really control it, so you might as well enjoy it while you can.”
A summer’s work experience in a busy bus workshop has been the key to a brighter future for good mates Kamosi Finau and Puna Taruia. Find out how these automotive trainees turned work experience into apprenticeships – and how you can do it too.
Talking to an employer can be scary, but it’s one of the best ways to get your foot in the door. Just ask Kamosi and Puna, whose introduction to an automotive employer led to a job over summer – and an apprenticeship offer.
The pair showed up for work experience at Ritchies Murphy Transport Solutions in Takanini during their last term of study at Manukau Institute of Technology. Thanks to their hard work and keen attitude, they made an impression on the workshop manager, Dave Robb (pictured with Kamosi and Puna above).
“I brought in half a dozen students for an introduction to a real engineering worksite,” says Dave, who manages four apprentices and 12 senior staff in the workshop and panel shop, maintaining and repairing a fleet of 160 buses and 40 cars.
“Some of the students were a bit cocky and some didn’t seem interested. But these two were writing things down and really taking notice,” says Dave.
“It’s about attitude in this game — you don’t have to know anything, you just have to be really keen to learn.”
Putting yourself forward
Fronting up to an employer is really worth doing, even if you feel scared or whakamā (shy).
“Just knock on the door and offer to sweep the floor,” says Dave. “Work experience gives you an idea of what you want to do and gives you the inside running when a job comes up.”
Although they were lucky enough to meet Dave through the course, Puna says approaching employers for work experience takes courage, “especially if you’re a bit shy like me!”. But putting yourself out there shows the employer you’ll be willing to put in effort on the job.
And once you’re in the door, you can show your enthusiasm by keeping busy, says Kamosi.
“Work experience is your chance to get on board and show you’re keen.”
“You can never stand there with your hands in your pockets. You’ve got to always be watching the tools and the ways of doing things.”
Puna, 29, grew up with a love for cars — fixing and modifying them in the family garage in Mangere. The Taruia family whakapapa to Niue on his mother’s side and Cook Islands on his father’s. Puna has a sister, and two brothers who are qualified tradies.
He’d been working for seven years as a process worker in a food industry factory and, with his family’s support, he decided to “step up to better things and get qualified”. He started with a NZ Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3) at MIT with help from an MPTT scholarship, which is how he met Mosi.
Kamosi Finau, 30, is a married father of a 14-year-old son and three girls aged 11, 5 and 2. Mosi was born and raised in Otara and his family come from Tonga, where they usually try to visit every couple of years.
Having been forklift driving and loading trucks at Foodstuffs for 10 years, Kamosi decided to make a change.
“My father-in-law is a mechanic and he was pushing me to think about a career. I didn’t know much about mechanics, but I enrolled at MIT and things just opened up for me.”
A foot in the door
After laying the groundwork with unpaid experience during their last term at MIT, Puna and Mosi applied for paid work experience at Ritchies over the summer holidays.
“We thought we’d give them both a go,” says Dave. “They started off cleaning dirt from the roofs of the buses. And they turned out to be so keen and useful we buddied them up with a mechanic and extended their paid work experience by three weeks.
“Now — and they weren’t expecting this — we’ve just offered them both apprenticeships,” says Dave.
“We were only looking for one apprentice, but they’re both good blokes and they seem to like being here, so we’ve bought them a toolbox each and look forward to having them around.”
Puna says getting an email from the chief executive, Todd Murphy, was a huge boost.
“It just gave me massive confidence to know I’m in a job with a future, getting great training and learning work practices from the old boys.”
Dave says he’s always keen to meet enthusiastic learners, and encourages trainees to introduce themselves to potential employers.
“I might be a bit old-school and my approach takes a bit of courage, but I reckon if you front up and knock on the door of a place you want to work, you’ll nearly always get listened to.
“People can see your character when you look them in the eye. It’s a whole lot more effective than sitting behind a computer and answering a whole lot of ads. It gets your foot in the door.”
Work experience is essential for building your skills and adds valuable trades experience to your CV. In fact, a lot of employers won’t hire someone who hasn’t done work experience. Check out these tips on how to land this work and make a good impression on your boss.
It’s normal to be scared to talk to an employer, but knocking on their door is well worth the effort. It shows initiative and a positive attitude, which is exactly what employers are looking for.
To help you feel more confident approaching an employer, do a bit of research by checking out the company’s website and talk to your navigator for advice.
When you show up for work experience, bring a small notepad and pen and take notes on what your boss says. This shows you’re keen to be there and will help you remember what you learn.
Ask questions. This shows you’re paying attention and want to learn more. Remember, employers don’t expect you to know much when you’re starting out. Instead, they’re looking for enthusiastic workers who value the chance to be there.
Automotive apprentice Joseph Kaufusi always knew he wanted to work with vehicles. “I like being on my feet, working with my hands, and getting dirty,” he says. The 24-year-old is gunning to get qualified through MITO – having already managed to smash out more than 90 credits by June this year, compared to the 75 credits expected for the entire year.
We caught up with Joseph to find out how he got into his trade, his goals for the future, and how his dad’s been a big inspiration in his career.
Firstly Joseph, tell us where you grew up?
I grew up in Tonga (Vava’u) until I was eight – that’s when my family moved here to New Zealand. We used to go back to Tonga once a year when I was little, when flights were cheaper and all that. But as I got older, I was going back once every two or three years.
We lived in St Lukes when we first moved to Auckland. Then we moved out to Mangere and that’s where we’ve been ever since. I’m still living at home, just trying to finish up this apprenticeship.
I’m from a small family, which is pretty weird for an islander. I’ve only got two siblings and they’re both younger than me. The youngest one’s actually over at Unitec with an MPTT scholarship, doing construction.
How did you get interested in working with vehicles?
I’ve been surrounded by people in the trades all my life. My dad’s a diesel mechanic. He did his main university training in Fiji, and then he came back to the mainland in Tonga and did the rest of his practical training there.
He started out with the old, hand-cranked diesel engines. By the time I was born, he was already 12 years into his trade. Dad still works on trucks and stuff, but that’s only in his off-time. Now he’s at the testing station doing warrants of fitness and certificates of fitness.
And has your dad helped you much with your training?
Yeah, I learned a lot of the basics from him. Given that I pretty much grew up around the industry I’m in, and I had some knowledge of diesel engines and cars in general, it was easier for me to progress through the learning.
I do talk about it with dad quite a lot, especially with my assignments. With bits I don’t understand, I just call up dad and we go through it.
It’s awesome when I’m doing my own projects, like working on cars at home and all that. If I get stuck I’ll ask dad, ‘What’s the best way of doing this?’ and he’ll come out and show me.
There’s some new stuff I’ve been able to show him, too, mainly on the electrical side with using the new scanning systems that have come out recently.
You were awarded an MPTT scholarship — how has that helped you?
It’s been a big help. I had money saved up for my course fees — that was all my savings from doing odd jobs here and there. When I got the MPTT scholarship, that made everything a whole lot easier. There was a load off, not having to think about how I’m going to be paying for all my courses and everything. So, I didn’t have to use up all my savings.
My MPTT navigators Pava and Tu were real helpful too. I went to them for advice on career paths and stuff like that, and they were able to provide me with all the info I needed.
How did you land your apprenticeship?
It was through MPTT as well. I was about a month out from finishing my course, and MPTT organised a recruiter to come to Unitec for a bunch of job interviews. Within a couple of days, I got a call from the recruiter offering me a job at Hirepool, which was where I started my apprenticeship in 2017.
I was at Hirepool for almost three years, and last year I moved to Universal Diesel. The main reason I moved was around getting the apprenticeship done. When I started training in heavy diesel, there wasn’t enough work for me to do at Hirepool. So, I had to make the call that was right for me and what I wanted to do in the future. I got on well with my boss at Hirepool, and when I said I needed to leave, he said ‘Go for it’.
How did you find your job at Universal Diesel?
I talked to my dad to see if we had family or any of his mates who were working in the industry. He asked them if the companies they were working for were looking for apprentices. And he came back with the position at Universal Diesel, because one of our relatives is the workshop foreman.
Working in heavy diesel was a deliberate choice for me. If you’re a diesel mechanic, you have a lot of options because you’ve done your training on anything from trucks, buses, all the heavy equipment, all the way down to cars and lawnmowers and stuff.
When will you be finishing your apprenticeship?
My parents are constantly saying, ‘Hurry up and finish!’ It’s been a lot longer than I should have done on my apprenticeship. Now I want to get it done as quickly as possible.
When I’m at home, I’ll knock out two or three assignments at a time. I just knuckle down. When motivation is lacking, I force myself to put my head in the book and keep going.
What do you get up to when you’re not at work?
Most weekends I’m still working ‘coz, in the hopes of owning my own business, I’m also doing it as a side hustle. Not only to keep gaining the experience and the knowledge, but also to build up that base for what I do in my own workshop.
I just do that from the garage at home. So at the moment, I’ve got one of my best mate’s utes parked up in my driveway, waiting for him to get a new clutch. It’s just helping friends and family out. Money’s a bit tight and getting it repaired in the workshop can be quite costly.
Other than that, I just usually chill with friends and family.
What are your goals for the future?
My end goal is running my own business, having my own workshop and being my own boss. Being free to do what I want to do.
I’ve given myself a five-year goal, which is to complete my apprenticeship in the first year and a half. Then once I’m all qualified, I want to pick up a night course at Unitec or MIT studying business. Once all of that is done, I can start making my move into having my own workshop. It’s most likely going to be in the hood somewhere, in South Auckland.
Find out more about learning Automotive with an MPTT scholarship.
Finishing your apprenticeship means you can stop studying and start enjoying being a qualified tradie – including earning more money and having more job opportunities.
But getting qualified is more of a marathon than a sprint. From your pre-trades course to the end of your apprenticeship you’ll be training for several years, so it’s important to stay motivated along the way.
The exact time it takes depends on your trade, and whether you already have some of the skills you need (like if you’ve worked as a hammerhand). But no matter what your situation, the sooner you get certified, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits. Plus, if you wait too long without progressing, you might need to pay another apprenticeship fee.
Remember, you’re never alone in your training journey – there’s heaps of support to help you get your qualification. So read on for how to ensure you complete your apprenticeship in good time, and what to do when problems come up.
Why get qualified?
It takes work to get your qualification, so it’s important to remember why you’re doing it.
Jodi Franklin from MITO says there are a lot of benefits to getting qualified besides not having to study anymore.
“A lot of things happen when you get qualified. It’s not just a certificate; generally you’re rewarded in the workplace with a pay increase. And the world’s your oyster in terms of being able to take your qualification all over the world. If you want to go and live somewhere else for a change of scenery, you can take your qualification with you.”
On the other hand, if you don’t get qualified, you’ll limit your opportunities and how much you can earn, says Jodi.
“It doesn’t matter how close you get to completing your qualification. Even if you finish 99%, it’s not recognised until you complete it.”
So if you want more money and more mana on the job, and the freedom to take your skills overseas or start your own business, get your certification sorted as soon as you can.
Take away: You need to get qualified to get the benefits from your training, like more money and more job opportunities.
When you sign on for an apprenticeship, your training provider (called an Industry Training Organisation, or ITO) will let you know how long it’ll ideally take you to complete your qualification. Depending on your trade, this is usually between 2 years and 4 ½ years of being an apprentice.
But it’s important to know that apprenticeships aren’t just about the hours you spend on site. Instead, you need to show the skills you’ve developed, says Doug Leef from BCITO.
“It’s all about competency. We all learn differently and, as such, progression from person to person differs. A lot of this comes down to the relationships forged on the job site and the quality of training and supervision given to trainees.”
Your employer is responsible for making sure you get the practical training you need during your apprenticeship, says Doug.
“That onus falls on the employer. It’s their responsibility to get trainees qualified. When they sign the apprentice up, we make the employer aware of the scope of work required.”
Take away: Apprentices need to show they have the right practical skills. Your boss is responsible for making sure you learn all the skills you need on the job, but you can help move things along quickly. Have a chat to your boss or ITO training advisor about the skills you need to learn, and make a plan for what you want to get signed off at your next meeting with your training advisor.
But it’s not enough to just show up to work and do what your employer says. As an apprentice, you need to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. That’s where theory or book work comes in.
“It can be a bit daunting to have all this theory to learn,” says Doug. “But you’ve got to understand the underpinning theory and the reasons behind why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s not just throwing houses up; it’s about compliance, accountability and administration.”
The biggest challenge for most apprentices is finding time for their theory work on top of working full-time. Depending on your trade and schedule, you might do your theory work during a block course (where you go into a classroom with other trainees on certain days), a night class after working hours, or at home in your spare time.
“It’s about managing your hours,” says Aimee Hutcheson from Skills. “Most apprentices are flat tack as soon as they enter the industry, so they need to work with their employer to fit in time for their theory work.”
To make sure your theory work doesn’t build up and get overwhelming, make time to work on it regularly, says Jodi.
“The most successful apprentices are the ones who get into a routine. It might help to go along to a night class. Otherwise, you need to find that one night where you’re not playing rugby or busy with other commitments. Even just a couple of hours a week makes a big difference. Doing a little bit and often is the key to success.”
Take away: Make time every week to do a bit of your theory work, so you don’t fall behind. When you regularly do work towards your qualification, you know you’re building your skills and getting closer to being a skilled tradie. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone – there’s heaps of support available, so if you need help or have a question, talk to your boss or training advisor.
Needing help – it’s normal
Many trainees feel whakamā (shy or embarrassed) when asking for help. But the truth is, everyone needs help at some point in their training.
Remember, it’s normal to need to ask questions sometimes, and no-one expects you to know everything.
“We’re all embarrassed to ask for help from time to time,” says Doug. “But you need to put your hand up early. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.”
One reason you might need support is if you don’t understand something your tutor says in class. It’s really important to speak up, because no question is a dumb question. Chances are, other students are wondering about the same thing.
“We do have people who have had to resit exams because of the spiral effect of being too shy to ask questions in class,” says Aimee. “Then they’re resitting because they’ve never had the relationship with their tutor to not be whakamā to ask questions and ask for help.”
Having learning differences, like dyslexia, can also mean you need to ask for help. If you’re not sure if that applies to you, don’t worry. Your ITO will do a quick test to see if you’d benefit from help with literacy or numeracy – and there’s plenty of support available.
“You can talk to your employer or tutor if you need help, or your training advisor (from your ITO) is just a phone call away if you have any questions or concerns,” says Aimee.
“You’ve got to build that confidence to be able to ask questions and ask for help if you’re struggling. At the end of the day, we all want you to get through and get qualified, and to feel like you’re achieving as well – to understand what you’re learning, not just check a box.”
Take away: Everyone needs help sometimes, so make sure you speak up if you don’t understand something or are finding anything difficult.
At some point during your apprenticeship, you might need to change jobs.
“Some trainees want to change employers because they’re travelling too far for work, or there’s not enough work, or maybe they’re not getting on with people on site,” says Doug. “It’s not the trainee or the employer’s fault – it’s just life.”
It’s okay to change jobs if you need to, but remember that an apprenticeship is an agreement between three parties: you, your employer and your apprenticeship provider. So when you leave your employer, you break the apprenticeship contract and you’ll need to sign another one with your next employer.
Before you change jobs, make sure your new boss is supportive of you doing an apprenticeship, says Jodi.
“You don’t have to stick it out in an employment situation that’s not right for you. And it’s the same if apprentices are laid off because their employer doesn’t have enough work for them or they want experience in other parts of the industry.
“You can change jobs and continue your apprenticeship, if you have the support of your new employer.”
If you’ve already had parts of your apprenticeship signed off and completed, don’t worry. The work you’ve already completed will stay in the system and you can transfer that to your new job.
But remember, changing jobs often takes time, which can delay your progress. For example, your new employer might want you to do a trial for a few months before giving you an apprenticeship. So change jobs if you need to, but don’t do it lightly.
Take away: It’s best to stay with your employer if you can. If you need to change jobs, make sure your new boss wants to give you an apprenticeship.
Need a break?
Sometimes life gets in the way of your learning. If you’re not able to work for a while, then you might be able to take a brief break from your apprenticeship, as long as your boss is on board.
“If you take a short break due to injury, then as long as your employer is aware of it and you’re still employed by the same company, it’s not an issue,” says Doug.
“For example, if you’ve hurt your knee playing rugby and you’re on ACC then we’ll say, ‘This person’s not working; they’re still in their apprenticeship, but their employer and ITO recognise they’re not fit for work’. So we can put your apprenticeship on hold until you can work again.”
But remember, you can’t put your apprenticeship on hold forever. You need to talk to your boss and ITO about why you need a break, and make a plan for when you’ll return.
“Apprenticeships can time out,” says Aimee. “Sometimes you can get an extension, but not by much. If you run out of time, you can be charged a fee because it’s almost like you’re signing up for that year of your apprenticeship again. You can’t just put it on hold indefinitely.”
Take away: If you need a break, talk to your employer and ITO and see if they can support your break from work. Just make sure you don’t leave it too long before you come back to your apprenticeship, because the longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to get back into it – plus you might be charged an extra fee.
At just 18 years old, Ben Poutasi lost his father in a tragic car accident. As the eldest of six kids, he took on the role of providing for his family with a job at Burger King, before learning a trade by day and working at night. Now aged 20, Ben is an automotive apprentice with dreams of being his own boss.
For Ben Poutasi, learning a trade was about providing for his aiga (family).
After tragically losing his father shortly after finishing high school, Ben worked closing shifts at Burger King to help pay the bills.
Ben’s father had been a mechanic and a builder, and Ben decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps with his career.
“I thought I better get a trade under my belt, basically to help take care of my family.”
Since helping his mum provide for his five siblings was top of his priority list, Ben needed his training to lead him straight into paid work – something he says is a strength of learning a trade.
“With university you get a degree, but often no-one’s helping you get a job in that field you studied for. I see a lot of my friends with degrees just staying at home, playing on the games.
“Heaps of them end up working in something completely different to what they studied. I think getting a trade is better.”
As an MPTT scholarship recipient, Ben not only had his course fees paid for, he had career coaching and help finding a job.
“When I found out I had the scholarship, I was still working at Burger King and I was going to try and find an apprenticeship and pay that off while working. I was going to skip the pre-trades course because I couldn’t afford it.”
Ben, who is Samoan, finished his Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3) at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) in November 2017. With help from MPTT Navigator Travis Fenton, he was able to go straight into an apprenticeship at Rangitoto Motors.
“Travis told me Rangitoto Motors was looking for an apprentice – so I went there straight away, printed off my CV and gave it to the boss, and had an interview with him.”
Ben says Travis has been there with advice and support from the start.
“He’s helped me a lot. At first, I didn’t even know how to sign up for the scholarship or enrol for my course, so he helped me with that too. And finding an apprenticeship was pretty hard to do but, thanks to Travis, I found one.”
As an MPTT scholar, Ben also received $1000 to spend on tools when he got his apprenticeship. That helped him buy a tool box as well as some equipment he needs for the job.
He also earned a scholarship from MITO to cover the first year of his apprenticeship fees.
Track to success
Mike Atkinson, owner of Rangitoto Motors, says Ben is excelling as an apprentice because of his willingness to work hard and try new things.
“He’s probably one of the better ones (apprentices) I’ve ever come across,” says Mike. “He has no fear. It doesn’t matter how big or small the job, he’s just keen to do it and he’s keen to learn. He’s definitely a strong part of our team now.”
Mike says Ben’s work ethic, responsibility and maturity beyond his years mean he’ll go far in the automotive industry.
“I see potential for Ben. He could potentially take over from me one day – that’s the angle I’m pushing him towards.”
Mike says he’s really pleased to see the work MPTT is doing to help build a qualified workforce in the automotive industry.
“We’re crying out for more skilled young people; it’s so hard to hire good mechanics these days. Anyone who’s helping to address that shortage has my full support.”
Ben lives with his mum and siblings in their Mangere home and he says their support has been a huge help.
“We’re a close family. My mum’s been there for me the whole way.”
Ben says he’s been encouraging his siblings to consider learning a trade.
“I talk to my sister about it quite a bit. She wants to go to MIT in the future.”
One reason Ben recommends a career in the trades is for the variety of work – he never gets bored.
“It’s great not having to do the same thing over and over again. Every day is different. There are lots of different vehicles for a start, especially with new electric vehicles coming out.”
As a tradie, Ben loves that he gets to use his hands and move around as he works.
“I’m glad I’m not stuck in an office – I’d get bored sitting there all day!”
Staying the course
Completing a pre-trades course at MIT helped Ben prepare for the demands of an automotive workshop.
“They showed us the different parts of a vehicle, which was useful because I knew things like what brake pads were when I started. It was good to have that background knowledge.”
Since starting his apprenticeship, Ben has enjoyed building his skills on the job.
“The practical work is cool. I’ve learned a lot of stuff and it hasn’t even been a year yet.”
As an apprentice, Ben has the added challenge of theory work and assessments to complete.
“The paperwork can be pretty hard, but I’ll get there. All the answers are there so I just need to learn them.”
As an MPTT trainee, Ben will continue to get support right through his training – including advice and mentoring from his MPTT Navigator Travis, to help Ben accelerate in his career.
Think you’re not strong enough to succeed in the trades, or worried about being the only woman in a team of guys? Elaine Pereira has been there. But as she discovered, physical strength isn’t as important as you might think, and neither is gender. With her positive attitude and solid work ethic, the 28-year-old has found work she loves, scored a valuable apprenticeship, and is accelerating towards a rewarding career in the automotive industry.
When Elaine Pereira’s car started playing up, her desire to fix it herself ignited a passion for the automotive trade. But despite her enthusiasm, she had doubts about how well she’d fit in as a tradie.
“My first perception of doing automotive was, oh, it’s a male-dominated trade, I’m not sure how it’s going to be. I didn’t know if I was going to be welcome. But everyone’s been really helpful, really kind and approachable. All my doubts that I had in the beginning have been pointless.”
As the only woman apprentice in her workshop at Trucks and Trailers in Wiri, Auckland, she’s found she sometimes takes a different approach to certain tasks, while still getting the same result.
“I may not be physically as strong as some other people, but there’s often other ways to get the job done just as well.
“I’ve found I sometimes do things slightly differently from the males in my workshop. I do ask them for advice, but I make it work for me to suit my comfort zone and my strength.
“For example, installing a transmission takes a lot of upper body strength, which men often have more of. For me, I’ve found I can use blocks of wood so I don’t have to hold the transmission up the whole time. It’s little things like that – finding an easier way to do exactly the same job, without putting yourself out.”
Trucks and Trailers service manager Kelly Henshaw would like to see more women like Elaine making their mark on the industry.
“It’s good to have a woman apprentice in a largely male-dominated industry. It’s not very common unfortunately, but certainly something we encourage. We do notice women are often quite detail-oriented, which is an asset in the trades.”
Unlocking her calling
With a background in the customer service industry, Elaine didn’t always picture herself as a tradie.
“Automotive wasn’t something I thought I would do growing up, but I’ve always been good with my hands. At home, if something breaks, I’m the one who fixes it. So it was something I was interested in; I just hadn’t applied it to a trade yet.
“I do have the personality to do customer service work, but I hit a point where I realised I wasn’t getting anything out of it – it was just a paying-the-bills job. I realised I’d learned everything I could in that industry and I wanted to do something new.”
At that point, she had been working at call centres for around 10 years – but when her family’s car started playing up, she had an epiphany.
“I’d just had a baby and I was on maternity leave. My car wasn’t running well and I was like, ‘I wish I could just get out there and fix it’. And that’s when it dawned on me that I can get out and fix it, and I’m going to learn how.”
Determined to get going, she started looking at automotive courses and enrolled at Unitec – and being Māori (Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa and Ngāpuhi), she qualified for an MPTT scholarship.
Speeding into employment
Elaine, who is married with children aged two and four, started working full-time straight after her pre-trades course.
She found the job with Trucks and Trailers thanks to Got a Trade? Got it Made! SpeedMeet– an event where employers and potential employees can meet each other for short, speed-dating-style interviews.
Mark Lawrence, acting regional manager for industry training organisation MITO, helped introduce Elaine to her employer and says it was clear she was a great candidate for the role.
“She got the job off her own back at the speed meet. She’s motivated and there’s nothing stopping her – she’s got a really good attitude and is a really positive person.”
After meeting some of the managers from Trucks and Trailers, Elaine was invited to come into their workshop to have a look around – and that day they offered her the job.
“I feel like I’ve scored my dream job to be honest,” says Elaine, who also loves that the workshop is just around the corner from her home. “Some days are a bit more challenging than others, but I’m really enjoying myself. My ability to expand my knowledge in this trade has been amazing, and I get to explore my passion for the industry.”
Keys to success
Elaine’s supervisor Kelly says she is a great asset to the team.
“One of her core strengths that really stands out is her positive, bubbly personality and she gets on really well with the team.”
Elaine’s reliability and enthusiasm for the job also make her a valuable employee, says Kelly.
“She’s a family woman with commitments at home, which gives her a different level of responsibility and work ethic. We do find often apprentices who are a bit older and have family to think about have more maturity and commitment to their work, because being able to provide for their family is important to them.”
Elaine was able to negotiate working hours that allow her to drop her youngest son off at daycare in the mornings, which Kelly says the organisation was happy to allow.
“We’re always looking to be flexible where it makes sense to do so. It does need to work for the employer and the rest of the team as well.”
Although she loves her job, Elaine knows it’s not enough if she wants to get qualified and enjoy a lasting trades career. That’s why she let her employer know from the start that she wanted an apprenticeship.
“After all of this I don’t want to be doing something and not get qualified at the end. I want to be doing something that will be with me forever.”
Having recently signed the contract for her apprenticeship, Elaine says the key to success was being open with her employer about her goals.
“I think my age and having worked full time previously helped me open those lines of communication.
“If I could tell my 18-year-old self what I know now, I would say just be honest, because having a good and open relationship with your employer can improve your work-life balance. I wish I’d had that advice when I was 18 and looking for a job.”
She says the best time to bring up your career goals or any issues that might impact your work is when you first meet your potential employer.
“Being honest from the start is important. Whether or not you think someone’s going to want to hear it, you’ve got to be honest.”
Employer Spotlight: Trucks and Trailers
Trucks and Trailers is a dealership for Mercedez-Benz Trucks and Vans and Freightliner Trucks. With three locations across the North Island, the organisation employs more than 90 staff including 15 apprentices. MITO’s Mark Lawrence says it’s a great working environment that’s suitable for trainees developing their automotive skills. “Trucks and Trailers are always looking for young people to join their team, and it’s a supportive environment to learn in.”
What you can learn from Elaine
Let your boss know about anything that might impact your work – even if you’re worried they won’t like it. Whether it’s an issue with your kids or your health, it’s best to be honest about it. Even though it can seem easier to just say nothing, if your boss doesn’t know what’s going on they won’t be able to help. Remember, part of your employer’s job is to support you to do the best work you can, so it’s best to let them know about any problems as soon as you can.
Having mouths to feed is a powerful motivator to work hard and build a successful career. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we share the stories of three mums building their trades careers, and we look at why hiring parents can be good for business.
The trades industry offers great opportunities for mothers who want a stable and rewarding career.
Mums with trades skills can expect to earn a good living to support their families. There’s a range of well-paid roles available in the growing industry, and statistics show women in the trades get paid the same as men for equal work.
To celebrate Mother’s Day, we look at why employers value parents as part of a trades team, and share the experiences of mums who are working in the industry.
When it comes to needing a great reason to get to work in the morning, having children to support is hard to beat.
Sarah Peraua, who has a seven-year-old son and one-month-old twin boys, says her children help her to be even more driven to succeed in her career.
“It definitely gives me motivation to work harder for my children and my family. I want to set a good example for my kids.”
Sarah’s employer Amon Johnson, director of Complete Build, says hiring parents has advantages for businesses.
“From an employer’s point of view, I find that people who have children are more reliable. Obviously they’ve got to support their children, so their motivation to get to work can be a lot greater than that of people who don’t have children.”
Camille McKewin, mother to six-year-old Madelin, was driven to start her own business after training in the trades. This allowed her to have more control over her schedule and spend more time with her daughter.
“That’s the good thing about having your own business. Working for yourself, you don’t have to work nine to five. It’s all on your terms.”
Of course, having children does come with challenges for parents in the trades.
A common issue is that trades jobs can have earlier starting times than the traditional 9am-5pm schedule.
Elaine Pereira, who is married with children aged two and four, needed to negotiate her working hours to allow for dropping her son at daycare in the mornings.
“They let me know the hours they needed me to work, and I told them I needed to talk to my family because a 7.30am start wasn’t going to work for me. My kid’s daycare doesn’t open until 8am, so that’s the earliest I can drop him off, which means I won’t be at work until 8.30.”
Her employer Trucks and Trailers, where Elaine is now working as an apprentice, offered her a job with a slightly later start than usual.
“They just asked whether I’d be able to come in early on the odd occasion if they needed me. And I’m happy to be flexible if they do need me to come in, especially because they’ve been flexible with me. It’s worked out well.”
Amon says all employment relationships require a bit of give and take.
“At the end of the day, that’s life, and you can’t expect a parent with a sick child to come to work. Employers have to be a bit flexible around parenting. I would say a large majority of employers are parents themselves, so they probably have empathy for that.”
The key to managing absent employees comes down to being organised, says Amon, who is a parent of twins.
“As long as the business has strategies to cope with things like sickness or absenteeism due to kids, it’s something that can be managed.
“The rest of the team might have to stay a bit later to meet our deadlines if someone’s away, but everyone understands that. My team is pretty good with picking up the slack if someone has to stay home with a sick child – and their co-workers who are parents do the same thing for them if they happen to be sick, so it’s really just a team thing.”
For many mums, whānau support to help care for their children is key to balancing work and family life.
Sarah says her parents have been there to look after her eldest son when she’s needed to work.
“My mum picks up my son after she finishes work so I can continue working until five o’clock. She sometimes takes him to morning school care as well. And if I wanted to work on Saturdays, my parents would both look after him.”
Elaine shares household responsibilities with her husband to ensure she has time for her work and apprenticeship.
“When I need to do my studies he’ll look after the kids, which is fantastic. With cooking dinner, doing the washing and cleaning the house, we share that work.”
Elaine says communicating openly with your employer is especially important for parents.
“Just being open when you’re applying for a job, telling them straight-up what things you can and can’t do, and having that open line of communication with my employer really helped me.
“They know that if my kids are sick and I can’t get anyone else to come pick them up, then I’ll have to leave, and they’re really good with that.”
Amon says with good communication, an employer can better plan around any constraints in the employee’s schedule.
“When I hire people I tell them that if they need to pick their child up at a certain time each day, let me know at the beginning so I can fit that into my programme. As long as I know about it, I can make sure I don’t book them to be working at those times.”
He adds that all employees require some flexibility whether they’re parents or not – from sick days to time off for a dentist appointment.
“For example, I’ve got guys here who are Jehovah’s Witnesses who have one day a week off. So I know they are a four-day worker, and I don’t try to take on work for a five-day worker. A lot of it comes down to organisation.”
The business case for hiring parents:
Parents can have more experience with meeting their obligations and taking their responsibilities seriously. This helps them to be reliable at work, too.
Parents have mouths to feed, so they’ll be motivated to work hard and have stable employment, says Amon Johnson, director of Complete Build. “From a business perspective, I prefer to employ parents because of that motivation and drive.”
By hiring parents, you’ll be helping them support their children, says Amon. “From a moral standpoint, I’d like parents to have a job to be able to support their families.”
Sometimes the path to a trades career isn’t a straight line. After trying his hand at automotive, switching to welding and spending months looking for work in Taranaki, Junior Mehau is now powering through an engineering apprenticeship thanks to his ambition, work ethic, and drawing on his networks in the trades.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you meet apprentice Junior Mehau is his ambition, reckons Marty Mitchell from Fairbrother Industries.
“Junior’s what you’d call a go-getter. He wants to be thought of as the number-one guy,” says Marty, who is the production manager and Junior’s boss.
“He sees what everyone else is doing and tries to do that little bit better – he’s quite competitive like that. And of course, when you’ve got a guy like that, no-one wants to be left behind, so he tends to motivate the whole team.”
Straight away, Junior made it clear he was looking to move up in his career, says Marty.
“The first time I met him he came up and said, ‘Hi, I’m Junior, what do I need to do to become the foreman here?’
“I said, ‘Well, it’s really simple. First you’ve got to finish your apprenticeship, and second you’ve got to be the guy everyone wants on the team.’ And he’s been responsive to that – he’s pretty sharp.”
But the road to an apprenticeship has involved a few detours for Junior. In fact, the first trade that grabbed his interest wasn’t engineering, it was his hobby – automotive.
“I like cars and I’m good with my hands,” says Junior. “I thought it would be a move in the right direction.”
He spent a few years tuning up his automotive skills, and with his dad being from Manihiki in the Cook Islands and his mum from Suva in Fiji, he qualified for an MPTT scholarship.
But with a taste of what life on the job would be like, Junior decided he wanted to keep his work with cars as a relaxing hobby, not his livelihood.
“I realised if I want to do stuff to my own cars, then I don’t really want to be doing that as a job.”
Marty says experiences like Junior’s aren’t wasted, since they all help develop the skills needed to build a career in the trades.
“Other mechanical style trades, such as automotive, are all about a logical approach to maintenance that’s very similar to engineering. Plus any trades training you do has key literacy and numeracy parts to it, which reinforces the basic building blocks that everyone needs to have.
“The process also forces you to take a disciplined approach to what you’re doing, and young people often need that. So by doing other trades and having other experiences, it all works towards Junior being better at what he does.
“All those skills are building blocks towards a bigger whole. Any time you can fill in some of those blocks outside of your immediate situation, it’s immensely beneficial.”
The 26-year-old later studied welding, and after enjoying the work and gaining some on-the-job experience, Junior discovered he wanted to focus his efforts on the engineering trade.
Although his focus changed as he progressed through the trades, MPTT was there to offer support and practical help throughout. Even when Junior left Auckland, having lined up a potential engineering job in Taranaki, MPTT project manager Kirk Sargent connected him with Taranaki Futures – an organisation that offers similar services to MPTT.
When the opportunity in Taranaki didn’t pan out as expected, Junior eventually returned to Auckland.
“I was wanting to go into the gas and oil industry. I was sort of promised a job from an engineering company but when I got there, they said the work was dropping off so they couldn’t take me on.”
With Junior back in Auckland, MPTT connected him with Iani Nemani at industry training organisation Competenz – one of MPTT’s partners. With help from Iani, Junior eventually found an engineering job making farm equipment for Fairbrother Industries in Auckland.
“I still do a lot of welding, because I build the bases for our machines,” says Junior. “I also like that I get to do new stuff and learn new things on the job.”
He’s now two years into an apprenticeship that covers the full spectrum of engineering, including mechanical engineering, maintenance, fabrication, welding and machining.
Marty says while Junior is learning all aspects of engineering, his personality does favour larger projects where the impact of his work is more clear.
“To me he seems more focused on the fabrication and welding side because it fits with his personality. He can build a big thing and look at it and see his accomplishment. But on the machining side you’re only making a small part of a bigger thing, so I don’t believe he’d get the same amount of satisfaction out of that.
“I think he likes taking a big pile of metal and making it into something worthwhile.”
Taking the lead
With his drive to excel on the job, it’s not surprising that Junior has big plans for the future.
“I want to own my own business one day and do my own thing – to put my little two cents into the engineering world.”
With a wife and two-year-old daughter, supporting his family is a big motivation for Junior.
“I want to move up in my career to get us a better life, and they think that’s awesome.”
Marty says Junior is well on his way to achieving his goals for the future.
“The first part of becoming a leader is you’ve got to want to be one. You’ve got to want to be able to improve the people working with you. By wanting that, Junior’s already sort of halfway there.
“To be a leader in engineering you’ve got to know engineering as well – it’s impossible to be an apprentice and also be the foreman. But once Junior’s finished his apprenticeship, that means he’s got all the knowledge he needs.”
Junior encourages those who are thinking about learning a trade to step up and take action.
“Don’t be scared, just go for it – anything’s possible. You’ve got to take the step and go for what you want, because you’re not going to get it if you just sit back and wait for it.”
Employer Spotlight: Fairbrother Industries
This year marks 40 years in business for Fairbrother Industries, which specialises in manufacturing industry-leading farming equipment such as post drivers. Production manager Marty Mitchell says apprentices are a crucial part of the team. “We’ve always offered apprenticeships and have had a number of Māori and Pasifika apprentices over the years. We currently have two apprentices on the books and are always open to more – we’re always looking for the next bunch of leaders to come through.”
Competenz is an Industry Training Organisation (ITO) and apprenticeship provider. Like other ITOs, Competenz develops national trades qualifications and helps make sure the industry has a continuous supply of skilled workers to grow New Zealand businesses. Iani Nemani, trades career advisor, Pasifika, says Competenz is always happy to help trainees find work in their trade. “One way of supporting industry is to connect young people like Junior with employers and industry training, ensuring they have the opportunity to earn while they learn and become qualified without the fuss.”
What you can learn from Junior
Want to impress your new boss? Ask them for advice on how you can achieve your career goals. This shows your ambition and enthusiasm for your trade, which are traits employers are always looking for. Plus, it lets your boss know what you want for your future (such as an apprenticeship or management position) which means they’re better able to help you get there.
Worried you might choose the wrong career? Iani Nemani from Competenz says the key is to give something a go, like Junior. “Choosing a career is big business. In Junior’s case, he did the right thing – he tried a few things out before finally choosing what he’s most passionate about. At the end of the day, the most important thing for young people is to start something, and then as Junior did, settle on the career that you’re most interested in.”
Why hire a labourer when you can hire an apprentice? That’s the opinion of Auckland business owner Pat Coll, who’s trained about 180 electrical apprentices since starting Coll Electrical back in 1985.
Pat says apprenticeships are a win-win, offering big benefits to both aspiring tradies and employers.
“Taking on apprentices is the right thing to do. It’s better for them, and it’s better for us,” he says.
“You’re giving workers an opportunity to up-skill, which means they can get paid more. A lot of guys who get an apprenticeship find out they’re quite good at it and they get better and better. You see guys grow, and it’s a neat feeling actually”.
“But it’s also good for us. Probably about 80% of our staff are people we’ve trained. A lot of them have gone overseas to travel, and they come back and become part of the management team. Most of our guys have been trained under us. It creates a bit of loyalty”.
Pat says more employers should consider taking on apprentices, rather than just hiring labourers.
“Why have a labourer when you can have an apprentice who’s just going to get better and better?
“To be honest, because of the size we are, it’s easy to train apprentices. It’s nothing major – no more than if we were taking on a labourer, no more than another staff member.”
Pat isn’t alone in finding apprenticeships valuable for business. Recent research by BCITO found for every $1 spent on training, a business will benefit by an average of $4.70 in increased profit for up to 10 years.
Wired for success
Among Coll Electrical’s 65 staff is 21-year-old Ioane McNiell-Temese, who began his apprenticeship in August this year.
Ioane was doing a Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory (Level 3) at Manukau Institute of Technology when the opportunity arose to join the workforce.
“Pat gave me a call after seeing a profile that Travis (an MPTT navigator) made of me. He asked me to come in just for a chat, and that chat turned out to be the interview. That’s how I got the job – easy as that.”
Ioane, who is half Samoan and being supported by MPTT Auckland, could see the advantage of landing an apprenticeship.
“I thought it was really important to get qualified. It’s something I’ll have behind me for the rest of my life. What’s three years of training compared to a life of just labouring?
“Maybe in the future I can go to Australia or even start my own business – it opens up more doors than just being a labourer or driving a digger.”
And Ioane is quick to encourage other trainees to take the same path, if they get the chance.
“Get your apprenticeship as soon as you can. If you think you’re ready, even a little bit ready, you’re ready. Go out and do it – it’s much better than sitting in a classroom everyday; you’re making money while you study.”
Having previously worked as a chef, Ioane’s also loving the chance to work in a more physical job. “I’m really enjoying the work. It’s a bit different to the old cooking job! It’s more physical than I thought. I’m doing civil work at the moment, so I’ve been putting up street poles for the past month or so. The spade has been my friend.”
As part of his apprenticeship, Ioane will complete his Level 3 and Level 4 while he works. He’s doing his apprenticeship through Skills, and will spend one day in a classroom every fortnight – while still being paid. Pat says he doesn’t mind losing his apprentices when they go off-site to study.
“Skills is very good. They come in and sign the apprentices up, they assign them to which tech they’re going, and we just keep an eye on it. I have apprentices who I don’t have any issues with right through their apprenticeship. They go to tech, we sign off their book, they do their job, we pay them. It’s great – couldn’t be better.”
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