While working as a marine engineer, Lucas realised the lifestyle of living on a ship wasn’t for him. Find out how he launched a new career in the refrigeration and air conditioning trade and found an apprenticeship.

Lucas Rankin always knew he didn’t want to be stuck in an office. But after taking up marine engineering, he soon found himself stuck on a boat.

“I thought I wanted to do marine engineering because it had a lot of variety. But the lifestyle wasn’t for me. You live and work on the ship, so the weekend’s not really a weekend – you’re basically working every day.”

Cool career change

As part of his training in marine engineering, Lucas learned about refrigeration and air conditioning, so he decided to pursue it as a career.

“We did a bit of it on the ship, and I enjoyed it. The gear they have is quite similar to the industrial gear they have on shore.”

After starting his pre-trade Refrigeration and Air Conditioning course at Manukau Institute of Technology, Lucas heard about Maori and Pasifika Trades Training and learned he could have his fees covered by a scholarship.

“That was awesome – I was stoked to find out!”

The 23-year-old, who grew up in Samoa and moved to New Zealand in 2011, now has an apprenticeship at Excel Refrigeration and Air Con Ltd. He works all over Auckland doing the practical work he loves, but with the balance of getting to go home at the end of the day.

“You get to do a lot in this trade. You’ll do welding one day, electrical another day, you even do a bit of plumbing. A lot is involved, which is quite cool.”

Showing initiative

Paddy Durham, a technician at Excel and Chair of the Ammonia Safety Association New Zealand, has been mentoring Lucas for around four months.

He says Lucas is a great worker who shows a lot of initiative.

“He’s a really good apprentice, one of the best I’ve come across. He has a really strong work ethic.

“He’s very intuitive with the whole process. I’ll be thinking about a task and I’ll turn around to find Lucas already handing me the right tool for the job without prompting.

“And if I have to take a phone call and I’m tied up, Lucas will just start cleaning up or keeping himself busy. He’s bloody amazing.”

‘Give it a go’

Lucas says his advice to others considering the trades is to give it a go as soon as possible.

“If you like hands-on work and don’t want to be stuck in an office, try a trade. I knew from a young age I wasn’t going to be in an office for the rest of my life.

“I feel like I should have started learning a trade earlier – like as soon as I got to New Zealand I should have just jumped into refrigeration. But in saying that, I feel like my experience in industrial shipping was really helpful.”

Lucas says he’s loving his apprenticeship and hopes to keep working for Excel after he’s qualified.

He also hopes to inspire other young Pacific Islanders to take up the trade.

“I want people to know that it’s an awesome industry to work in. If you have an interest in engineering, then definitely go for it.”