Light at the end of the tunnel

George Patterson
Coming to New Zealand for rugby, George Patterson found his passion in something he never expected. Since receiving his MPTT scholarship, he’s become a qualified mechanical engineer and has spent the last 10 months working on Watercare’s $1.2 billion Central Interceptor project, New Zealand’s longest wastewater overflow tunnel. But the journey hasn’t always been easy. Find out how George overcame a fear of asking questions and became an invaluable part of his team.

A career in the trades wasn’t George’s first plan. But after seeing a demand for mechanical engineers, he decided to give it a try.

At the time, rugby was still his priority. But as he learned more about the trade, he began to develop a real passion for it.

With support from his family and an MPTT scholarship, George completed his National Certificate in Welding (Level 3 and Level 4) at Manukau Institute of Technology.

“My mum and dad always encouraged me towards something like this,” says George, who grew up in Suva but is from Levuka, Ovalau Island in Fiji. “They said sport would only take me so far.”

In 2016, George landed an apprenticeship at Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure in Papakura, with help from his MPTT navigator. But life on the work site was more challenging than he’d expected.

Learning to speak up

MPTT graduate George Patterson with his boss, Ian Norton
George (left) rose to the challenge of his apprenticeship with help from his boss Ian ‘Nod’ Norton, who he now calls his ‘working dad’.

George’s apprenticeship journey was a bumpy road. Not everything made sense at first, and just learning the basics – like the different types of pumps and motors and their purposes – seemed difficult.

“To be honest, it was nothing like what I expected. I knew nothing! I was so fresh in the industry.”

“A lot of kids grow up working on cars and helping their parents out with stuff around home, but I was never a hands-on person when I was growing up.”

At times, George doubted his career choices and his future as a tradie.

“The first two years, I was like, ‘What am I even doing here?’ and ‘Is this the right thing for me?’ I was fighting with myself to stay there.”

But George pushed himself and grew a thicker skin, challenging himself to ask more questions on the job.

“It was hard to put my hand up and say, ‘Can you please explain that and slow it down for me?’ That’s what you have to learn to do though.

“I carried a little notebook in my overalls and wrote things down during the day. Then I’d find my boss Nod at smoko, and ask him to explain things I didn’t understand. He helped me a lot – he was really patient and fair with me.”

‘I never gave up’

As he started gaining knowledge and experience, so too came the respect of his workmates and boss.

“It started to click for me. My boss was putting me on bigger jobs and I’d do them, so he’d give me more jobs. I started to actually do the job because I understood it.”

George’s boss, Ian ‘Nod’ Norton, says George has become an invaluable part of the team since he started working for him in 2016.

“He found it challenging at first, but the great thing with George is that if he doesn’t know something, he asks,” says Nod.

“Then, especially last year, he started picking it up and getting into the nitty gritty. And now he’s the most trustworthy one I’ve got underneath me. We’re like a family here — he’s like a son to me.

“I can leave him with any job now and go away, and I know he’ll do it, or he’ll ask me if he’s confused.”

George currently works for Ghella Abergeldie Joint Venture on the Central Interceptor – a super-sized wastewater tunnel that runs underground from Grey Lynn to the Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant.

He spends most of his time constructing the tunnel boring machine, and says the experience has solidified a love for his trade.

George is 'fascinated' by the tunnel boring machine he's helping put together and hopes to one day lead a team in building these machines.
George has been using his skills to put together a tunnel boring machine, which will soon help create a super-sized wastewater tunnel. George is ‘fascinated’ by the tunnel boring machine he’s putting together, and hopes to one day lead a team in building these machines.

“There were so many times I could have given up and gone back to Fiji. That would have been the easy option. But I didn’t want to give up.

“I always stayed and pushed on. I knew in my head there was a light at the end of the tunnel – literally, because I was working in a tunnel.

“I always knew it would get better. And it did — I’m happy now. I come home from work smiling.”

Perseverance pays off

MPTT Graduate, George Patterson who completed his apprenticeship while working on Watercare’s $1.2 billion Central Interceptor project, New Zealand’s longest wastewater overflow tunnel.
In the tough times of his apprenticeship, George kept going with encouragement from his family and advice from his grandad that ‘the smooth sea doesn’t make a skilled sailor’.

Last year, the 28-year-old finally completed his apprenticeship and is now a fully qualified mechanical engineer.

“My dad is a man of few words. We had a video call and I brought up my certificate for him to see, and he gave me this big smile. I could see it in his eyes that he was proud.

“And my mum was really proud too. When I told her, she was so happy and said, ‘All your hard work has paid off’.”

Becoming qualified brought a big pay rise — and George knew exactly how he wanted to celebrate.

“As soon as I got qualified and signed the contract, I bought a Ford Ranger ute. I’m six-foot-six, so I’ve always wanted a big ute that I can fit into. I love it and I’m so grateful.”

He says the pay rise has given him heaps more financial security, and he has a few specific money goals.

“I’m young so I’m not really thinking about buying a house yet, but I’m thinking of investing it and making my money grow, and maybe getting a house later.”

George loves his work and has big plans for his future in the trades.

“Every day I go to work, I’m getting new knowledge. I go home thinking, ‘I built that – I did all of that’. So I feel like I own it. I didn’t really have that before. It makes me feel peace inside that I did this job and helped this company.

“In 10 years, I’d love to be one of the leading mechanical engineers on a tunnel boring machine build. And later on, I’d like to be a mechanical superintendent, which means I’d be running a team of engineers. That’s what my boss Nod does now.”

George encourages future tradies to ask lots of questions and have the courage to ask for help.

“When things get hard, just ask. I feel like that’s a big thing for Pacific Islanders – we’re shy about asking questions, asking for help, speaking up. But there’s never a dumb question. And if people do laugh at you, just remind yourself you’re learning something. Always remember you’re an apprentice and you’re still learning.”

Crossing the finish line:
Get qualified on time

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.
Good timing

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.

Getting qualified is more of a marathon than a sprint.

In theory

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.
Work worries

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.

‘She’ll be fighting off job offers’

Most people want to be in demand in their career – but how do you get there? Mechanical engineering apprentice Toni Rhind is sure to be sought after once she’s certified, says her boss Eddie Green. But that doesn’t mean the road was easy. In fact, Toni tried several careers before finding the right fit, and had to make the tough call to leave a good job in order to get an apprenticeship.

Apprentice and young mum Toni Rhind will be “fighting off job offers” once she’s certified, reckons her boss.

Eddie Green, who oversees Toni’s work at Pacific Steel in Auckland, was impressed with Toni’s work ethic and motivation from the start.

“Toni’s a role model. Her schoolwork and block course is always up to date. She adds a lot of value to our business and she’s always been outstanding. If she wants help, she’ll put her hand up. Toni is definitely delivering all the time.”

He says Toni will be in high demand when she’s finished her apprenticeship.

“She’s going to have a lot of choices. Whether we hang on to her or not will remain to be seen, but she won’t have to worry about finding somewhere to work.”

Joining forces

Around a year ago, Pacific Steel was looking for a female apprentice to join its mostly male team. But with mechanical engineering traditionally being a male-dominated field, Eddie had difficulty finding the right person.

 

Toni working on machinery at Pacific Steel’s Wire Mill (left) and with her boss, Eddie Green (right).

“We’ve got a big diversity plan, and at that time I was tasked with finding us a female apprentice. But there was hardly anyone around,” says Eddie, who is maintenance superintendent at Pacific Steel’s wire mill and manages the company’s apprenticeship training scheme.

Eventually, Eddie found Toni through Competenz – a partner of MPTT – after she’d approached them looking for an apprenticeship.

“As soon as I met her and talked to her, I knew she was exactly what we’re looking for,” says Eddie. “To be honest, I couldn’t hire her quick enough – I just had to get her on board. And it’s worked out really well.

“She absolutely fit what we were looking for, not just with getting a woman into the trades, but also because of her motivation and her skillset.”

Engineering her success

After having her son at age 16, Toni began looking for a career. But it took a while to find the right fit.

She did the first year of a nursing degree, then switched to sports massage for a few years. She then became a personal trainer and fitness instructor but although it paid the bills, she knew it wasn’t what she wanted to do long-term.

Inspired by her handyman grandfather, Toni decided to look into mechanical engineering.

“I was already quite good with my hands and I liked having a go at fixing things. I knew I couldn’t work in an office.”

Support system

Toni (Ngāpuhi and Tainui) also qualified for an MPTT scholarship that offered financial and practical support.

MPTT trainees like Toni get more than just free course fees. They also get one-on-one mentoring and career advice, as well as help finding work and getting an apprenticeship.

Toni, 26, says this ongoing support was a major reason she chose to join the MPTT programme.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people that go through the pre-trades haven’t had much support going forward with their career. And something I felt really helped me is that I had very strong support from MPTT.”

Toni’s relationship with MPTT started when she was looking at learning a trade. It was then that she met Naomi Tito, MPTT relationship manager at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT).

“When I was looking into my course, Naomi told me about MPTT. She was very friendly and helpful, and gave me a lot of information about what support I could get and where I could continue training after I’d finished at MIT.”

Measurable progress

Toni found her first mechanical engineering job while still doing her pre-trades course at MIT.

With her sights set on getting certified, she asked her boss for an apprenticeship, but eventually had to look at other options.

“I had a job and I thought it would lead to an apprenticeship. But once I’d finished my pre-trades course, it didn’t really look like my boss was going to be able to offer me an apprenticeship. So I found an apprenticeship with another company.”

That company was Pacific Steel. Eddie says he was impressed by Toni’s drive to get certified, particularly because apprentices temporarily get paid less than other employees until they are qualified.

“To walk away from a pretty well-paying job and to take that leap, that couldn’t be easy,” says Eddie. “I did speak to her about the money and how she’d make ends meet but she had a real plan and it was a good plan. I liked how motivated she was and how keen she was to do it.”

Now a year into her three-year apprenticeship, Toni is loving her work.

“I enjoy being challenged all the time. When I go to work, there’s always something different to do each day. My job is to help maintain the machinery at Pacific Steel, like fixing breakdowns to get the production line going again. We do quite a bit of welding and fixing broken equipment.”

For Toni, changing careers was a way to open up her career options and give her more choices in life.

 

One of the things Toni loves about her job is the variety of tasks she gets to tackle — no two days are the same.

“It was about career opportunity. My long-term goal is to become a contractor. I’d like to be my own boss so I can choose my hours and what jobs I work on. Once I finish my apprenticeship, I’ll be looking to get more experience before eventually going out on my own.”

Formula for success

Many parents find it challenging to juggle work and family life. But for Toni, what made it possible was having the support of her whānau.

“I’ve got both my parents around to support me, and my sisters. So it was only when my son was sick or he had a school trip on that I’d try and take some time off work.”

Having support at work is also important to Toni, and she’s found her team at Pacific Steel provides this.

“I work with a supervisor and a number of workers, so there’s always support there. There’s always someone to talk to if you have any problems in the workplace.”

Although mechanical engineering is still a male-dominated field, Toni hasn’t come across difficulties as a woman in this trade.

“Where I’m working, they treat women just like they treat the men. I think sometimes men underestimate women’s ability to do physical jobs, but actually women can do all of those physical things too.”

Eddie is passionate about encouraging women to succeed in the trades, and says some lingering stereotypes are the only problem.

“I’ve been in engineering for around 39 years now, and what I find hard is people who have a job that needs doing and automatically go to one of the males. But why not stop and think and give that job to one of the women? Toni is equally as capable as any of the men we’ve got here now or have ever had.”

Toni encourages other women who are interested in the trades to follow their dreams, and to take advantage of all the help they can get from others along the way.

“Give it a go, and don’t be intimidated because you’ll have a lot of support behind you.”

Working through hard times

When you see someone succeeding in their career, it’s easy to assume their life has always been great. But 28-year-old engineering apprentice Sherya Hetaraka knows from personal experience that isn’t necessarily true. After losing her dad in 2015, she battled depression and had to learn how to ask for help. Find out how Sherya got through the most difficult time in her life – and worked her way into the trades.

A few years ago, Sherya Hetarata’s life looked good from the outside. She had a great job at Griffins Foods, having worked her way up from packer to second-in-command. She was managing a crew of more than 20 people – despite being one of the youngest on the team.

In reality, she was going through the hardest time of her life. Her father had passed away, meaning Sherya lost her best friend and her strongest source of support at the same time.

Although it was difficult, she eventually sought help by talking to her bosses at Griffins.

“It took me a while, but I opened up with my bosses and they were the ones who helped me into seeing a counsellor. Because I got that help and support, I didn’t need to take time off work.”

Opening up

After seeking help, Sherya was diagnosed with depression and started taking antidepressants. She also had fortnightly visits with her doctor and a counsellor for nearly a year.

“I got peace of mind from the counselling,” she says.

“I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like putting my struggles onto family or friends, because I’m the one who they all come to with their problems. My dad was the only person I went to about everything. So once he had passed it got real difficult.

“But talking about it with a counsellor was a lot easier. I knew they didn’t know me at all, so I felt like they couldn’t judge me.”

Mental health challenges are common in New Zealand, with nearly half of Kiwis experiencing a mental health problem in their lifetime.

If you’re having a difficult time like Sherya was, the most important step is to ask for help.

“Talk about it. It gets easier. Focus on yourself instead of trying to make other people happy. That’s where I think I was depressed quite a bit, because I was too worried about how to fix everyone else’s problems and not my own. Talking about it helps heaps, plus doing something you enjoy.”

If you’re going through a hard time, it’s important to seek help and remember you’re not alone.

“At times it might seem hard and you might think you can’t do it,” says Sherya. “But don’t be shy to ask for help because everyone needs help sometimes.”

Top Trainee, Sherya Hetaraka
Sherya was awarded top trainee for Mechanical Engineering at the MPTT Exit Event held in July 2018.

Choosing the trades

While Sherya was working on her mental health, she was also thinking about a career change.

“I had a good job but it wasn’t something I could see myself doing for another 10 years. I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in my life and how I could make my dad proud.”

Sherya, whose iwi is Te Arawa and Ngāti Kahu, took time to think the decision through and spoke to her boss about the potential career change.

“I was stuck between engineering and social work. I’ve always wanted to help others, especially kids – mainly troubled youth with very tough backgrounds. I wanted them to know that someone cares and that things aren’t always gonna be hard.

“So I sat down with my boss. His wife was a social worker so they had done a lot of youth activities, youth camps and helping out the homeless. He explained that it’s one of the hardest jobs you can have. You need a strong heart that cannot be broken so easily due to the fact you can’t get emotionally involved.

“Hearing everything he said, I knew mentally it would take a toll on me because seeing struggling kids breaks my heart.”

Sherya had dabbled in engineering at Griffins, and the support she received from engineers in her team convinced her the trades was the right path.

“A lot of the engineers helped me out and I learned how to fix my own problems on the machines. Engineering was something I thought I might enjoy doing as a job.”

“I like taking things apart and putting them back together. I’ve always been like that. The job is exactly what I used to do when I was a kid – take things apart, put them back together. Only now it’s more extreme.”

In 2017, she handed in her resignation and began studying Mechanical Engineering Level 3 at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT).

Giving back

While studying engineering, Sherya discovered that trades skills are a great way to give back to the community. She joined a volunteer project organised by MPTT, where she and other trainees did some mahi for RāWiri Community House in Manurewa.

“Our project was to restore their community vege garden that was destroyed from a car driving through their fence and straight over their vege garden boxes. We weeded all the planter boxes, trimmed back all the harakeke around the community house, fixed all the planter boxes, painted the fence and replanted all the veggies.”

For Sherya, the best part was meeting the workers at the community house.

“They are amazing at what they do. These ladies do a lot of mahi for our homeless. They bathe them, feed them and care for them every week. Being a part of the project was one of the best experiences I’ve had since I started studying.”

Having finished her pre-trades course, Sherya has now been awarded a valuable three-year engineering apprenticeship at Griffins and is on her way to getting qualified.

 

Where to get help
Your doctor

If you think you need help, a good place to start is with your GP. They can assess you, help you make a plan for your treatment, and connect you with mental health professionals like a counsellor or psychologist.

 

Helplines

Helplines mean you can kōrero with a trained person over the phone for free. You can talk about how you’re feeling, or what to do if you know someone who may need help.
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

  • Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Healthline – 0800 611 116
  • Samaritans – 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
  • Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

 

Websites that can help
  • SPARX.org.nz – an online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed
  • www.depression.org.nz – includes The Journal online help service
  • The Lowdown is a website to help young New Zealanders understand depression and anxiety from their own perspective.

 

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Engineering his future

Junior at work
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.”

Changing lanes

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.”

Joining forces

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.

Staying in touch with MPTT
MPTT Auckland Project Manager Kirk Sargent called into see Junior and Scarlet as part of his visit to New Plymouth to meet with Taranaki Futures

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.”

Junior Mehau is proud of his engineering work
Junior Mehau with some of the agricultural equipment he helped to build in his current job at Fairbrother Industries

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

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.”

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

 

Trainees rebuild garden after car crash

community project in south auckland
A much-loved community garden that was destroyed by a rogue vehicle has been restored, thanks to a group of MPTT trainees.

RāWiri Community House provides services to the Manurewa community including free drivers licence theory courses, helping people search for jobs and working with homeless people in the area.

Earlier this year, the gardens at the centre were damaged when a car went through the front fence.

Eight MPTT trainees from Manukau Institute of Technology got stuck in to help and made the project their own – with some even making artwork for the fence around the garden.

At MPTT, we encourage all our trainees to get involved with community projects. Not only is it a chance to use their skills – and learn new ones – it adds meaning to their mahi by giving back to the community.

Read more about the RāWiri project on the Stuff website.

Māori and Pasifika Trades Training: Auckland engineering and horticulture students have been working tirelessly today to finish building vege gardens at Rawiri Community House. These gardens will help the team at RaWiri to continue to help feed our communities. Awesome work! #teamwork #mahiwithapurpose Competenz

Posted by Healthy Together – Counties Manukau on Thursday, 26 October 2017

Iani Nemani of Competenz
Iani Nemani from Competenz who helped setup this community project

Louisa Wall at Rāwiri Community House
Louisa Wall with Kirk Sargent at Rāwiri Community House

Linked posts:
Sherya, living our values
Working together as one to achieve

Better for them, better for us

Apprenticeships better for everyone
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.
A win-win

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.”

Hands-on skills

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.”

Looking for an apprentice you can trust? Ask our navigators about finding the right employee who can add value to your business.

Welcome to the whānau

Group shot
Our most recent intake of MPTT trainees from Unitec, MIT and NZMA were welcomed to the whānau at our ‘Whanaungatanga* Days’ in August and September. These events, led by the Industry Training Organisation for each trade, were a good chance for trainees to meet each other and get to know the MPTT team as well.

Trainees from the second semester of 2017 learned about the support and opportunities MPTT can offer on their journey to becoming fully qualified tradespeople and proud members of the community.

The trainees were all presented with their scholarships and listened to speakers talk about work readiness, how to succeed in the industry and the growing demand for women in the trades.

A trainee from MIT said one highlight was the ‘site visit’, where trainees got to experience what it’s like on the job.

“Having a third-year apprentice train the new guy gives me confidence that I have someone who understands where I’ve been.”

* Whanaungtanga means relationship, kinship, a sense of belonging and of connection through shared experiences.
 

Competenz and MITO Whanaungatanga Day
Wednesday 16 August

Following a welcome and the awarding of scholarships, our trainees went their separate ways. Welding and Fabrication trainees visited Metal Skills in East Tamaki where they got a good insight into what their futures could look like. They were accompanied by MPTT navigators Tu Nu’uali’itia and Travis Fenton from Oceania Careers Academy as well as Reg Currin from Competenz.

Refrigeration and Aircon trainees visited White Refrigeration in Grey Lynn and were accompanied by Rangi Williams from Competenz. Rangi shared some of the trainees feedback:

‘I like the small sized company as it feels closer and the work seems exciting.’

‘This site visit helped me make up my mind that this is what I want to do.’

‘Steve said there are 2 apprenticeships available at the end of the year. This makes me want to work harder for a spot.’

The automotive trainees remained at MIT where they learned about their future as automotive apprentices. MITO’s Brian Messer and Mark Lawrence said they had a lot of great conversations with the trainees.
 

Equipment
Welding and Fabrication trainees were pretty impressed with the equipment at Metal Skills.

Feels good.

Demonstration
A quick demonstration for Welding and Fabrication students. Great to see some wahine coming through.

Navigator, Tu listening with a couple of the Welding and Fabrication students

Swag
Collecting some swag – MPTT shirts for all trainees

Skills Whanaungatanga Day
Wednesday 30 August. Electrical, and Plumbing & Gasfitting

Trainees visited Skills at their offices in Highbrook, East Tamaki. They heard from industry speakers including Ruana Letalu from Ara – Auckland Airport Skills and Job Hub and Issac Liava’a, the National Pasifika manager from Skills.

Matt Matamu, an account manager at Skills also spoke to them about what to expect as an apprentice in the Electrical, Plumbing & Gasfitting trades. Tu and Travis, who are MPTT Navigators from OCA introduced themselves to the trainees and spoke about the role of the navigator. Students enjoyed the visit saying that it had a real cultural feel and that it was nice to see lots of brown faces. Thanks MPTT.

It was neat to meet other MPTT students from Electrical & Plumbing, those guys were a crack-up

Skills Organisation
Electrical and Plumbing Recipients at Skills Whanaungatanga Day

Skills gets the thumbs up from Joeli Davis

Travis Fenton
Travis Fenton getting to know the trainees

Navigators
MPTT navigator, Travis Fenton awards Electrical Trainee Taumua Belford his scholarship

Scholarship recipient
Mikayla Pinn receives her scholarship

Scholarship recipient
MPTT Manu Whakahaera, Sam Sefuiva congratulates an MIT trainee on his scholarship

Group shot
MPTT electrical and plumbing trainees for 2017 Semester 2 intake

Women in trades
Girl power. There are 7 females in this intake, all of them studying electrical. Join the movement

Bright futures

Future in the trades
What’s in the bag. Finding out about their futures in the trades

Networking
Electrical trainees getting to know each other

Kai time
MIT trainees enjoy some kai

 

BCITO WHANAUNGATANGA DAY
Wednesday 6 September. Building and Construction

The Great BCITO Bus Tour took Building and Construction trainees out to Hobsonville Point, where they visited a large building site managed by Complete Build. Trainees were accompanied by Hayden Toomer from BCITO as well as Murray Conroy, Shirley Murray and Ana Cullen, the navigators from the Solomon Group.

The bus tour stopped at Sustainable Coastlines where everyone enjoyed kai cooked up by BCITO’s Richard Mason. Comments from some of the students included;

If I had a car, I’d get a job on a site like that, it’s so massive, heaps of work

Gonna tap BCITO for an apprenticeship!

Thanks for the bag BCITO got ya number

Getting to know each other
Aleni Ropati and Michael Holani on the Great BCITO Bus Tour

Inspiring projects
Lots of interest from Tauira in the block plans and models of the development

BCITO
Hayden Toomer BCITO adds his expert advice. Hunia Rangi from Complete Build to the right and navigator Shirley Murray to the left

The boys from Hunterville
Two 19 year olds from Hunterville spoke of their experience as apprentices

Richard Mason
Thanks to Richard for his tireless efforts for MPTT. Making bacon.

Kai Time
Nothing like some kai to put a smile on faces

Women in Trades
Women in trades are highly sought after. Heather and Sarah have great prospects ahead of them

Building and Construction Apprentices
Building and Construction trainees Issac Nye and Mobeen Saheb

Building and Construction Apprentices
Networking time. Joe Seumanutafa, Jay Wairepo and Mayor Rubena get to know each other

Group shot
BCITO Whanaungatanga Group. What a great day

Working it
Thomas Inamata looking pretty pleased to be awarded his scholarship

Scholarship recipients
MPTT Ambassador, Sam Sefuiva congratulates Joe Seumanutafa on receiving his scholarship

Scholarship Recipient
Result for MPTT trainee Whareumu Karaka

Navigator, Shirley Murray shared her comments on the day:
All the speakers were very informative and well worth listening to. Two of the speakers who presented to our tauira were both aged 19yrs and on apprenticeships. They both came from a small place called Hunterville. They went on to describe how it was for them coming to the big city of Auckland, they touched on things like being homesick, and how they overcame it, also fitness and the need for it to be successful on the job, how they were supported on site by the BCITO’s and their mentors.

One of the speakers also spoke about women in the trades. He said that women are a sort after commodity but unfortunately they don’t seem to be coming through fast enough. The percentage of women engaging in construction needs to be encouraged as it has been recognised in the trade that women make excellent Project Managers. This is an area where women excel because of their ability to multi task in the first instance. This work is more strategic than physical and they cope better with paper and planning in general. A very good career prospect for the right women in Hi Vis.

 

SERVICEIQ WHANAUNGATANGA DAY
Wednesday 23 August. Consumer Services

Consumer Services Trainees and tutors visited the Toi-ohomai Institute of Technology in Rotorua where they stayed at the Marae overnight. They stopped in Hamilton on the way, where the Horticulture students explored the Botanical Gardens. Later, the hospitality students had the opportunity to cook and serve dinner for their group.

Caroline Harris from ServiceIQ accompanied the group along with one of their apprentices who shared their experiences with the trainees. Feedback from the trainees showed they came back inspired and were keen to do it all again:

Awesome, we need more whanaungatanga with other MPTT students

I made new friends, the tutors were great and participated in activities – we want another one of these events

Food was the best – can’t beat home-cooked kai and thanks for the lunch packs

Thank you MPTT you’re the best!

Talofa lava MPTT, can we organise the next whanaungatanga event?

Thanks to all those who gave up their time and resources to help make these days happen.

From ‘bum’ to builder

When he moved from Gisborne to Auckland in 2015, Anton Lee-Kutia had no qualifications and not much confidence. But while helping his uncle with DIY jobs, Anton and his whanau discovered his talent for building.

When Anton Lee-Kutia moved from Gisborne to Auckland last year, his only clear goal in life was to be a good dad to his two young daughters.

But he had no qualifications, no money and not much confidence.

“I came up to Auckland ‘cos I had a bad break-up with my ex and needed space. I was being a bum really. For years I’d just been doing whatever there was for work or I was on the dole.”

Hidden talent

While staying with his relatives, Anton started doing small DIY projects around home.

“I was helping my uncle round the house, building fences and gates, and he said ‘You’ve got a bit of a knack for this’. I’d never done that kind of thing before; I was just trying to pull my weight.”

Before he knew it, Anton’s family had helped him successfully apply for a Level 4 Certificate in Carpentry at Unitec, and a full-fee scholarship from MPTT Auckland.

He started the certificate in February and is on track to hold his first formal qualification by Christmas this year.

“I’m enjoying it. I just really like building frames and using my hands. I don’t like the theory much though,” he says.  

“After I qualify, I’ll try to find a good company to work for and start my apprenticeship.”

A bright future

Anton reckons going from “bum” to trained builder within 12 months has been “a hard-out change”.

“At the end of the day I was nearly 30 with nothing under my belt. Compared to where I was last year, I’m doing heaps better.”

A highlight this year was travelling to Fiji in October as part of an MPTT: Auckland team that partnered with Habitat for Humanity in building two new homes for low-income families.

Anton’s two-week voluntary trip was generously sponsored by Hawkins Group.

“Thanks to Hawkins for making this trip happen. It gave me the opportunity to go and use the skills I’ve learned so far, doing some good in the world.”

Anton says working in the poor community of Loqi, near Nadi, was a real eye-opener.

“It made me see how easy we’ve got it. The timber they used was a basic debarked log and the builder’s mix was just rocks and stones from down at the creek. It was real old-school.”

Staying motivated

Despite having a great year, Anton knows how easily he could slip back into his old ways unless he stays focused.

“I guess I’ve learned that if you want to get there you’ve got to put in the work. Things won’t just fall in your lap.”

Driving him is a motivation to provide for his children.

“I want to be able to look after them, and I want them to see me not doing the old stuff I used to do,” he says.

“I’m nearly there. It’s just a matter of waiting and having the patience to let things tick over. At the moment I have to look for a job and keep doing the studies.”

Living with his relatives has also given Anton the chance to make a difference in his 16-year-old nephew’s life.

“I tell him not to worry about partying so much and I say, ‘Don’t end up like me, living with my aunty. Go get the qualifications now and the good things will come with it’.”

Anton may be living with his aunty and uncle but at least he’s finally found a dream – to have a great career and build his own home one day.