Romeet Chand and Jason Pou are pursuing their passion with careers in different parts of the automotive industry. Jason has completed his Light Automotive Engineering qualification at Mercedes-Benz Auckland, and Romeet has completed his Heavy Road Transport qualification at Truckstops. Both of these MPTT scholars are turbo-charging their futures and making the most of support along the way.

The two have always loved cars, and they said training to enter the industry made sense.

Jason said he reached a point in his life where he wanted to have a skill to back him up, so he decided to become qualified in a trade. MPTT supported him with funding, and when he was ready to find employment, a Navigator helped him secure his first interview. He was eventually offered a role with Mercedes, an opportunity not to pass by.

Romeet has had a lifelong drive to find a career in the automotive field. He grew up in West Auckland and has been around cars and engines since he was small. He studied Level 2 and 3 Automotive Engineering at MIT as well as Welding and Fabrication at Level 3 and has now completed his apprenticeship. He first secured a position at Truckstop through MPTT partner and industry training organisation MITO. Romeet is enthusiastic about the support he received from MITO.

Romeet explains, “MITO does heavy-duty diesel apprenticeships. They provide the training materials via eLearning and come in and see us regularly to assess where we’re at and make sure we have credits, and goals so we are on track to get qualified. 

“My advisor, Brad, kept us to deadlines and made sure we got things done on time and made getting my qualification so much easier.” 

Brad Hepi says helping apprentices is an important part of his role at MITO. “We work alongside MPTT in identifying young people that want a career in the automotive industry. With MPTT, we support our Māori and Pasifika, providing an extra layer of care and support. We give theoretical and technical support as well as help to guide people throughout the apprenticeship journey.

Jason Pou completed his apprenticeship in April 2022.

No idling

Although Romeet and Jason both brought a lot of knowledge, there’s been no time to idle. The learning is at a fast pace.

Jason says he was surprised at how much he has learned in completing his apprenticeship. “I started my pre-trades a bit later in life, and I thought I knew a lot. But then I kind of had to eat a humble sandwich pretty early.” 

Nevertheless, he completed his qualification in April 2022, despite the disruption of the pandemic.

Advisor Brad says the ability to go at your own pace is an advantage of the automotive apprenticeship programme.

“Automotive apprenticeships are unlike some others where it’s time-based. Instead, if you’re disciplined, you can get through it more quickly.

“We allow three or four years for a normal apprenticeship. But that becomes shorter if you’re academic enough, understand everything practically and are good with your hands. Both Romeet and Jason qualified way ahead of their estimated completion dates.”

Romeet, who qualified in April, says an important part of completing the apprenticeship was to get experience across all the areas of the trade.

“For example, if I needed to do something with a turbo, I had to wait until a truck with a turbo failure came in. But it works out by keeping in touch with your foreman about what sort of jobs you want to work on.

“Also, MITO is able to help by putting us on block courses for a few days to do certain things that may not otherwise come up regularly.

“There is a lot of support and lots of people who can help you out.”

The apprenticeship itself is about rolling your sleeves up and getting your hands dirty – but not as dirty as you might think.

Brad says the industry has changed a lot and is not so dirty and greasy any more. And there are plenty of opportunities.

“There’s a real shortage of qualified technicians out there in the industry at the moment, both for light vehicles and heavy vehicles. We have a genuine skill gap in both areas in New Zealand.

The automotive industry employs almost 60,000 people, and the qualifications that MITO support include Automotive Technician (Mechanic), Collision Repair Technician and Refinisher (Panelbeater), EV Technician and more 

Jason’s qualification in Light Vehicle Engineering equips him to work anywhere in the world on cars, SUVs and similar vehicles. Romeet’s qualification, Heavy Automotive Engineering, sets him up to work on a range of road transport vehicles.

Taking time to tune their skills

Now that Romeet and Jason are qualified, they’ve unlocked new opportunities to progress in the industry and can aspire to more senior and lucrative roles in the future. However, both say they are getting a huge amount of satisfaction from building their skills where they are.

“I just want to become a better and more efficient mechanic. You sort of catch on and know when you’re improving,” says Jason.

“When it comes to diagnosing issues with cars, some of it’s easy, but some of it can be the most difficult part of the work. And it’s pretty satisfying when you can find the issue and pinpoint it early without even having to go through all the steps.”

Romeet says, “I’m just looking to stay here and build my experience with more trucks. I’m studying to get my welding ticket, and that will enable me to do more where I work.”

Both of the boys are excited about how the industry is evolving.

“Things are changing fast with electric vehicles coming in and the ways trucks are made with more focus on emissions,” says Romeet.

Jason agrees. “It’s a changing trade. Even once you’re qualified, you’ve got to keep training and learn about what’s happening on the market, as opposed to other trades where I think once you learn how to do something, that’s that. Instead, it’s just like a consistently changing field.”

The future looks bright for these tradies, especially now that they have their qualifications.

Brad Hepi explains that once you’re qualified, you can go anywhere in the world.

“You know you’re in high demand. That’s one of the fortunate things about our NZQA standard; it’s one of the most highly regarded and recognised qualifications on the globe.

“Jason and Romeet were focused and motivated to complete their apprenticeships. But most of all, they worked hard, and they will both gain the benefits of that.”

Romeet was unavailable for photography at the time of publishing.