Jaxon Kuvarji had a decade of experience in the automotive trade – but with no qualifications, his career options were limited. After finishing his pre-trades training in 2014 and finding an apprenticeship at Mayne Automotive, he’s now well on his way to his dream career.

Get qualified as soon as possible – that’s Jaxon Kuvarji’s message to those looking to learn a trade.

“Don’t leave it too late like I did. If you’re thinking about doing it, do it. Don’t just sit there thinking, ‘Oh, I should get onto it one day’.”

The 28-year-old, who’s soon to get his automotive qualification, has around 10 years’ experience in the industry. But he says getting that piece of paper to confirm he’s qualified will undoubtedly accelerate his career.

“I’ve got friends who are at the same stage as me now in their career, but they’re six or seven years younger than me. If I’d done my qualification when I was their age, I’d be so much more set,” he says.

“Having a qualification makes it a lot easier to get a job. If you approach a new employer and say, ‘I’m not qualified, but I’ve got 10 years’ experience’, you’re sort of starting from the bottom again. If you’ve got that piece of paper in your hand, it throws you a couple of steps up the ladder.”

Gearing up

Jaxon had always been interested in cars, and as a youngster enjoyed helping his dad do vehicles up to sell them. But he hadn’t seen it as his future career.

He looked into being a pilot and joining the Air Force. When those doors didn’t open, he began working in the automotive industry.

Jaxon, who is of Māori heritage, has now clocked more than a decade of hands-on experience, including more than three years with his current employer, Mayne Automotive.

Getting qualified

Two years ago, with a scholarship from Māori and Pasifika Trades Training, Jaxon began working towards his formal qualification through Manukau Institute of Technology and he’s currently finishing up the required unit standards at Unitec.

He hopes to be qualified by the end of the year, and is looking to follow up with a management course.

“Then I can be the boss man and get off the tools a bit. As a manager, I’d be overseeing the operations in the workshop.”

Eventually, Jaxon wants to open a workshop of his own but for now he’s enjoying learning all he can at Mayne Automotive.

“It’s been really good. They look after me really well and I’ve learned a lot. When I first went there I thought I knew a lot about cars, but it’s opened up a whole new avenue.”