Apprentice putting his family first

No-one achieves major goals on their own – our success also depends on support from those around us. That’s why refrigeration and air conditioning apprentice Avishkar Kissun is happy to be using his skills to help his hard-working parents pay the bills, and plans to celebrate getting established in his trade by taking his family on holiday.
For Avishkar Kissun, learning a trade is about giving back to his family. 

The 21-year-old was born in Batinikama, Labasa, on the island of Vanua Levu, Fiji. But his parents, who are both teachers, wanted him and his sister to have more opportunities. So in 2016, they made the difficult choice to leave Fiji and come to New Zealand.

“My parents wanted a great future for me and my sister. They needed a better future for us, so they decided to move to a new country.” 

Once in New Zealand, Avishkar chose to learn a trade because it allows him to help support his family while he trains, and opens up the possibility of owning his own business one day.

“My parents have struggled a lot in coming to New Zealand and it wasn’t an easy way to come here. So I have to care for my family.”



Avishkar learning on the job in Ponsonby, not far from Airtech’s headquarters on Williamson Ave.
House warming

Avishkar now lives in Papatoetoe with his parents, his sister and his granny.

“It was a big change for us, because we still have our house and close families in Fiji. It was really a very hard decision to leave behind our house and people with whom we’ve spent our time,” he says.

“My dad has struggled a lot. Coming from Fiji and getting a job was hard in New Zealand. When we came, my mum was the main applicant and she came on a student visa. She completed her Bachelors of Digital Technologies at MIT as an international student. My dad worked as a cleaning supervisor at the airport. After about two years, he managed to get his teacher registration and started teaching, through which we got residence.”

Avishkar’s parents are both now working as teachers, and his sister is studying biomedical science at Auckland University.

Together, the family managed to save enough to buy their own house in Auckland. 

“We have just bought our own house last year, due to our hard work and savings. I am lucky to be working because I am helping my parents pay the mortgage.”

Avishkar wants to use his trade to give back to his parents.

“This house is not my parents’ dream house. I have a plan in my mind: I’m thinking of buying them a house that they like – a dream house for them.” 

“I’m also thinking of taking my family on a big vacation once I’m established in my trade and my life is sorted out.”

Conditioned for success

Avishkar knew he wanted to study refrigeration and air conditioning after he lent a helping hand to his neighbour, who was a refrigeration engineer.

“A few days I went with him to help him, and I really enjoyed it and wanted to learn more. I didn’t have any knowledge of it — I was just a helping hand, you know. I wanted to learn more, so I just went to MIT and found the pre-trades course in air con and refrigeration.” 

In 2018, after finishing high school, Avishkar did a Certificate in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (Level 3) at Manukau Institute of Technology, with help from an MPTT scholarship. He excelled in his studies and was given the MIT MPTT Top Trainee Award for General Engineering. 

“MPTT paid for my fees, plus they gave me support to buy tools, which was very good and very helpful for me. Those are the tools I’m using now. And Hami and Naomi from MPTT supported me with preparing my CV and getting me ready for a career.”  



Tools aren’t cheap, and Avishkar’s grateful for the help from MPTT with putting his kit together.

In January 2020, Avishkar started his apprenticeship (through Competenz) at Airtech, which sees him working all over Auckland.

“The thing I enjoy most is going to new places in Auckland, and getting to work on new types of air con.”

“My job mostly focuses on the air conditioning. There are selected senior staff who do the refrigeration and I work with them. I have just started, but I am doing my best to learn refrigeration from them.” 





Air of confidence

Avishkar’s boss John Yorston, General Manager at Airtech, says the company is constantly “bombarded” with CVs from people looking for work, but Avishkar shone through because of his maturity.

“There’s a formality about him in terms of how he works and in his manner. He’s presentable and tidy. He has a maturity that’s a major benefit for him in what he’s doing and where he’s going, and that rolls into his acceptance by the team. 

“Give him a few years and he’ll be able to liaise with clients and pretty much do everything we could want — that’s for sure.”

One challenge for Avishkar has been getting comfortable with heights.

“It was very challenging for me when I started, you know. Going up high, climbing ladders and everything, is not easy when you’re not used to it. But slowly I am learning and seeing where people put their hands, what’s the correct position. Now it’s all normal for me and I’m confident in everything, but this was one of the challenging parts.”

In the future, Avishkar has his sights set on owning his own business, and he hopes to be able to employ some of his relatives who also live in Auckland.


Employer Spotlight: Airtech
Based in Grey Lynn, Airtech provides air conditioning and refrigeration services all over Auckland. They do everything from installing heat pumps in homes to fixing air conditioning systems at school, businesses, and commercial factories. They also service, repair and maintain commercial air conditioning and refrigeration equipment at places like restaurants and fast food outlets. 

General Manager John Yorston says the company has 15 employees, including two apprentices. As someone who receives a lot of applications, John has some good advice for anyone trying to land a job in the industry: 

#1
Send in a well-written CV, and follow up with a phone call to make sure the employer’s received it and knows you’re interested

#2
If you’re offered an interview, show up on time and dress smartly. The employer wants to see you looking professional, especially if it’s a role where you’ll be going into people’s homes.

#3
Be prepared for your interview: learn about the company and the industry beforehand, bring any required paperwork, and be ready to talk about what your goals are for the future.

Want to get qualified on time? Do this

Shannon Ngawharau

Keen to enjoy the money and mana that come with being qualified? With focus and dedication, MPTT alumni Shannon Ngawharau finished his construction apprenticeship in great time. Read on for tips on how you can finish your apprenticeship on time, too.

Most apprenticeships typically take around 3½ to 4½ years. But it isn’t just about the hours you put in. To get qualified, you need to show you have certain skills. That means if you’re motivated, you can finish faster – like Shannon.

Having previously served in the Royal New Zealand Navy, Shannon had leaned how to be disciplined. By working hard and focusing on ticking the right boxes, the 36-year-old completed his construction apprenticeship in around two years. If you’re thinking you could never find that kind of motivation, it might help to know that Shannon has been there too.

“I already did an electrical apprenticeship and that took me quite a long time – about 5½ years. So I know what it’s like to be unmotivated and I know what it’s like to be motivated as well.”

Speed isn’t everything, and it’s important to take the time you need to properly learn your trade. But by doing some of what Shannon did, you can help ensure you finish your apprenticeship in good time – so you can enjoy being a qualified tradie.

Having the goal of being a qualified builder helped Shannon stay focused on completing his apprenticeship.

Building speed

Although Shannon (Ngāti Ruanui) had previously trained as an electronic technician through the NZ Navy, when he signed up to learn construction he was new to the trade. In fact, he hadn’t worked with timber since woodwork class in high school.

After completing a pre-trades construction course at Unitec in 2015, Shannon began his apprenticeship in 2016. This involved signing a three-way contract between himself, industry training organisation BCITO, and his employer Your Home Construction, which specialises in high-end residential and light commercial work.

Having learned the theory of his trade during his pre-trades course, Shannon worked hard to show this knowledge in his paperwork. He also made a plan for what practical skills he’d need to get signed off when he met with his training advisor every three months.

“It was a combination of things that helped me get it done pretty fast. My boss had a wide scope of work available, so I kind of got to choose where I’d work.

“I planned all the practical units that I wanted to get signed off every three months, and worked on those skills before I met with my training advisor.”

Shannon’s boss Charles Lindsay, owner of Your Home Construction, says Shannon’s planning and determination quickly paid off.

“He approached getting qualified like a business, with a goal and a plan to achieve it. His paperwork was flawless. He had photos and everything. You’d be hard pressed to find another like him, I’ll tell you that much.

“I’ve said to all my other apprentices, if you do anything even close to what Shannon did, you’re going to pass with flying colours and get it done in good time.”

Shannon (left) with his boss Charles Lindsay, owner of Your Home Construction.

Constructing a career

From the start of his pre-trades course at Unitec, Shannon was determined to finish his apprenticeship and get qualified.

“I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Once I’d dedicated myself to the course, I knew I wanted to carry on and get my qualification.

“I worked with another guy who did the same course as me and he chose to just work as a labourer, but I went the other way. There was a little bit more work for me to get qualified, but it was always something I was going to do anyway. If you’re working in the industry, you might as well get something out of it at the same time.”

A trades qualification stays with you as you look for jobs or travel the world, Shannon points out.

“Once you have it, you can take it pretty much anywhere. You can go and work in Australia if you like. Your qualification is recognised in a lot of places.

“If I was just a labourer, then every time I got a new job I’d have to prove myself based on my work. But now that I have a qualification, I can back myself up with that, as well as showing them what I can do on the job.”

He encourages other trainees to focus on what they want for their long-term future.

“You just need to have the right attitude if you want to get qualified. You have to think about the end goal, not the short-term goal.

“Visualise that, because there are going to be times when you’re doing long hours or doing the same mundane job – carrying materials around site or whatever – and you just have to keep in mind what you want to get out of it.”

Charles says completing an apprenticeship and getting qualified is a huge improvement to a trainee’s life and career.

“You’ve got to look into your future and think about where you want to be in life. If you want to be a hammerhand, you’re going to plateau at one level for the rest of your life. But if you want to be the boss dog and earn big money, you’ve got to get your apprenticeship done and get qualified. So get your qualification done. Just do it.”

Before each meeting with his training advisor, Shannon planned the skills he wanted to get signed off and made sure he learned those skills on the job.

High rise

Now that he’s qualified, Shannon still works for Your Home Construction and received a pay rise when he finished his apprenticeship.

“At my age I’m just happy working for someone else. I’m currently finishing off a Diploma in Construction Management, so I’m kind of hoping to transition into project management down the track.”

Not having to worry about working towards his qualification anymore is a huge plus for Shannon.

“The big thing for me is that it takes the weight off my shoulders. Now I can relax and learn the craft more instead of having to think about my next meeting with my training advisor.”

There was no big change in how people treated him at work, mostly because his team assumed he was already qualified.

“Charles put me in charge of the sites I was working on anyway, even when I was still an apprentice. I think he knew what type of person I was, you know, and he had an idea that even though I was new to the trade, I wasn’t completely fresh because of my previous experience in the Navy.

“So once I did get qualified, the other people on site were like, ‘Oh true, we didn’t know you weren’t qualified’. They just assumed I was already a qualified builder because they didn’t think an apprentice would be running jobs.”

Shannon’s motivated attitude is what made him a great candidate to run jobs on site, says Charles.

“You can teach building skills, but you can’t train someone’s mindset to be keen. If someone’s not keen, you might get a really good builder out of them, but they’re not going to go that extra distance and push themselves so much.

“Most apprentices just ask, ‘what are we doing next?’ Whereas Shannon was always thinking forward, and that’s the hardest thing to find. A lot of people just go with the flow, but he always had a game plan of what to do next, and he’d even start making a list of materials we’d need for that job.”

Enthusiasm for the job is the main thing employers look for when hiring, says Charles.

“If someone’s keen they’re going to want to come to work every day, they’re going to want to work hard, and they’re going to want to learn. And that’s something Shannon’s had. He just wanted to get qualified and learn everything he could as fast as he could.”

 

 
How to finish your apprenticeship on time – or even faster

  • Make time for your theory work.

    As part of your assessment, you’ll need to show you understand the theory behind what you do. So don’t leave your paperwork until the last minute. Make time to do a bit of paperwork each week, so you stay on top of it and can remember what you learn.

  • Plan the practical work you need to get signed off.

    It’s up to your boss to make sure you learn the skills you need, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show initiative. Talk to your boss about the skills you need to get signed off, and how you might be able to do that before your next meeting with your training advisor. Don’t be shy – your boss will likely be impressed by your motivation.

  • Stick with your employer if you can.

    When you change jobs, you break your apprenticeship contract. Even though you can continue your apprenticeship with a new employer, it can take a few months before you sign the new contract. So by staying with one employer for your whole apprenticeship like Shannon did, you’re more likely to finish quickly. If you do need to change jobs along the way, make sure your new employer is happy to offer you an apprenticeship.

For more tips on getting qualified on time, see our blog on how to cross the finish line of your training.

‘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.”

Completing the circuit

At Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) Auckland, our trainees don’t just get jobs — we help them become qualified tradespeople. As recently-qualified electrician Cruise Tito knows, completing your apprenticeship is well worth the hard work to get there. Here’s the story of how Cruise has set himself up for a lasting and rewarding career.

When Cruise Tito finished his apprenticeship in November last year, he was thrilled to celebrate the years of hard work he put into his qualification.

“Being the first of my siblings to get qualified, it was a big deal. We all went out to dinner to celebrate,” says Cruise.

The 22-year-old was part of MPTT Auckland’s first group of trainees back in 2015. Having now completed an apprenticeship through Skills and electrical contracting company Team Cabling, Cruise is officially an electrician.

Cruise Tito, qualified electrician
Qualified electrician and MPTT Alumni Cruise Tito completed his apprenticeship on November 2018.

Lightbulb moment

When Cruise finished high school, he knew he wanted to get a job that was hands-on, so it made sense to learn a trade.

“I like electronics and was motivated to get a good-paying job, so I decided to become an electrician.”

He completed a pre-trades course in electrical at Manukau Institute of Technology in 2015, with his fees paid for by the MPTT scholarship.

He was also coached by his MPTT navigator, to help ensure he knew what employers were looking for as he prepared for life on the job.

Sparking a legacy

MPTT Auckland has its roots in the Māori Affairs Trade Training Scheme, which saw thousands of Māori gain trade qualifications between 1959 and the mid-1980s.

This created a generation of Māori leaders in the trades — a legacy that MPTT is working to continue by supporting people like Cruise right through their training.

As one of the first trainees to join the MPTT programme, Cruise (Ngāpuhi, Ngai Ta Manuhiri, Ngāti Whātua) is grateful for the help it has offered him throughout his journey to getting qualified.

“The scholarship was a massive help financially. MPTT also encouraged and supported us to do better, like helping us set five-year goals.”

“MPTT is like a family. It was really nice being part of a group of people that met up regularly. My navigator Awhina helped me out with my CV and I also attended a financial support workshop through Skills, which helped me and my household improve our budgeting.”

The first goal on Cruise’s list after finishing his pre-trades course was getting an apprenticeship.

He found this opportunity at Coll Electrical, where he worked for about three years. Cruise was able to work nationally and was sub-contracted to work in Wellington for six months.

“It was the first time I had moved out of home and I was able to work on my first commercial project end-to-end.”

Returning to Auckland, Cruise realised he needed more varied experience to get the career he wanted.

“We were mainly working on civil projects, and I wanted to move more towards commercial. So I decided to look for other opportunities and was able to get a job at Team Cabling.”

With help from his apprenticeship provider Skills, Cruise was able to carry his apprenticeship over to his new job.

Switched on to the trades

From the beginning, Cruise has loved that the electrical trade lets him work with his hands.

“The work is awesome. There’s heaps to learn, I get to do different things every day, and it’s hands-on, practical work.”

“I knew I didn’t want a desk job – not right now anyway. I’m an active, hands-on person, so I based my career around that. I was motivated to get qualified, as I saw it was the key to more opportunities.”

The biggest challenge for Cruise on the road to becoming qualified was getting motivated to study and complete the necessary assignments.

“Exams were really hard. I found it hard to study while working full-time and playing rugby. But at the same time, I really enjoyed getting paid to learn.

“My partner motivated me a lot. Seeing her develop in her career made me determined to keep up. She helped keep me on track — she actually put the whip on me,” he laughs.

Now that he’s a qualified electrician, Cruise is grateful to have plenty of opportunities and support to grow his career. He recommends trades training to anyone who enjoys hands-on, practical work.

“Take every opportunity you can. Get paid to learn and get qualified,” says Cruise.

Apprentice earns national building award

Robert Piutau
Tradespeople do a lot of great work, but it’s not every day they get national recognition for their skills. After delaying his building career for years to be a stay-at-home dad, former MPTT trainee Robert Piutau was stoked – and a little surprised – to win second place in the New Zealand Certified Builders Apprenticeship Challenge this month.
Find out more about Robert’s journey into the trades and how he earned his impressive placing at the awards.

When Robert Piutau found out he’d won second place in a national building competition, it took a few moments for the good news to sink in. “I was at the awards dinner and I heard my name and saw it on the screen – but it didn’t hit me straight away. Then someone behind me said ‘Hey, that’s you’. I think I was in shock that I got a placing.”

Robert competed against 18 other finalists in the New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) Apprentice Challenge, held over three days in Rotorua in May. Judges scored the finalists in various areas, including a presentation, an interview, and written material such as their portfolio, cover letter and CV. They also built a catapult as part of a separate promotion with Mitre 10.

“I didn’t think I’d place in the top three,” says Robert, 33. “Especially with the calibre of guys there.” For claiming a podium finish, Robert won $2500 worth of tools, plus took home the Mitre 10 bench tools he used to make the catapult.

“We kind of felt like superstars down there for the way we were treated. It was such an awesome opportunity and I’ve never had that kind of experience before.

“I came away really motivated to persevere and continue my studies and apprenticeship, and then just go on to get qualified.”

Robert and the other apprentices showcased their skill and creativity by constructing a working catapult during the NZCB Apprentice Challenge. Photos courtesy of ITAB Auckland.

Hammer time

To secure his spot in the national competition, Robert first competed – and came out on top – in a search for North Auckland’s best building apprentice.

Nineteen of the area’s most skilled apprentices went head-to-head for eight hours at the regional challenge in April, turning construction plans into a detailed children’s play castle. Each playhouse included a turret and working drawbridge, and was judged by a panel of experts on workmanship, measuring, cutting and assembly.

Robert came away with the highest overall score – but he says it wasn’t an easy challenge.

“At first I was surprised that I won. I had a few challenges on the day and made a couple of major mistakes, but I knew I had to keep going.

“I started differently to the other guys and built it the other way around – starting with the cladding and then doing the frames last. My family came and I pretty much had nothing to show for the whole day. Then in the last half hour I put everything up, and it was all go from there.”

The Mangere resident, who is in the second year of his apprenticeship at ABS Builders, had the added challenge of leading a father-son building event the night before at Kelston Girls College – an initiative of his church, Breakthrough Church.

“I was focused on that and it didn’t finish until around midnight. So it was all go for me on the Saturday of the competition – I only had a couple of hours to go through the construction plans.

“What helped was knowing how well the event had gone the night before. Seeing those kids and their fathers come together and do a project, and just seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces – that was priceless.”

Robert Piutau at the Nationals
“I didn’t think I’d place in the top three, especially with the calibre of guys there.”

Robert Piutau at the Nationals
Robert was stoked to be able to keep the tools provided by Mitre 10 Trade for the catapult challenge.

Family man

Although he was introduced to building by his grandfather at a young age, it took a while for Robert to realise he wanted a career in the trades.

The father of four – daughters Edenn (12) and Ayvah (9), and sons Abraham (6) and Joel (7 months) – had been a self-employed courier driver before staying at home to care for his eldest son for more than four years.

“It was a great experience being home with my son. I can honestly say it was the hardest job I’ve done.”

It was during this time that Robert realised he wanted to be a builder, thanks to a visit from his uncle.

“While I was a stay-at-home dad, I gave my uncle a hand renovating my parents’ house. That was when I realised, ‘Man, I’m actually pretty good at this’ – and I liked it too.

“I started helping family out, changing door locks and doing all the odd jobs they couldn’t do. If I didn’t know how to do something, I’d just pick it up and try to figure it out. That’s how it all started for me.”

During the years that Robert took on the bulk of the parenting, his wife Meli was studying to be a nurse. She qualified last year as a registered nurse, allowing Robert to spend more time focusing on his own career.

“We both left our studies late because we weren’t sure what we wanted to do,” says Robert. “But now we’re on the right track. My wife’s found work with Plunket, and I’m finishing my apprenticeship.”

In training

With Robert’s parents being from Tonga – his mum Melenaite from Folaha and his dad Manako from Kolofo’ou – he qualified for an MPTT scholarship. This covered his fees as well as ongoing coaching and support.

“It was a huge help because at the time my wife was still studying. We were getting by week to week without much money, so the scholarship really helped me.

“If I hadn’t got the scholarship, I don’t know if I’d have been able to study. It was a huge opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it.”

Robert completed his pre-trades course at Unitec while working as a builder on Thursdays and Fridays – experience that eventually helped him land an apprenticeship.

“The first year I decided to become a chippy, I had no idea about the terminology. I didn’t know what was what. That one-year course really prepared me for life on the job. It was pretty full-on for me to work as well as study, but we needed the money for our family.”

Seeing the growing need for skilled tradespeople, Robert knew he wanted to get qualified as soon as possible.

“I saw the benefits to doing an apprenticeship and being to learn from someone who’s experienced. I was motivated and pretty much had an apprenticeship lined up by the time I finished the year of study.”

Now that he’s well on his way to being qualified, Robert also likes to let others know about the benefits of joining MPTT.

“I introduced the scholarship to my little brother-in-law. I’d like to inspire other Māori and Pasifika to get into the trades.”

What you can learn from Robert
  • Give things a go – even if you don’t think you’ll succeed. Robert was surprised to win both his regional and national awards – but even though he hadn’t expected to win, that didn’t stop him from getting involved. While you’re gaining experience, it’s normal to worry you’re not skilled enough or not as good as other people. So instead of waiting until you feel ready, aim high and give it your best shot. No matter what, it’ll be great experience – and like Robert, you might be surprised how well you do.

Fueling change in the automotive industry

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.”

Smooth transmission

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.

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.”

Mechanic’s break of a lifetime

Think you can’t land a great job straight out of your studies? Find out how Jason Pou’s positive attitude, work experience and enthusiasm helped him score an apprenticeship at luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz shortly after finishing his course.

Jason Pou admits to feeling a bit out of his depth when he went for an interview with Mercedes-Benz a few months ago.

The 26-year-old West Aucklander had only recently graduated from autotronics at Unitec and had spent no time in a proper automotive workshop.

“When I found out about the Mercedes job, I thought I’d give it a shot. But I imagined they’d only hire well-experienced people,” Jason says.

However, Jason had been in touch with automotive industry training organisation MITO – one of MPTT’s partners. Seeing that Jason presented well and had a great attitude, MITO put in a recommendation for him with Mercedes.Having initially thought his chances of getting the job were slim, Jason jumped at the chance to meet his potential employer for an interview.

“They took me around the workshop and there were cars I’d never seen before. So flash – it was crazy. There were cars selling for well over $100,000. It was a bit overwhelming.”

Despite his lack of workshop experience, Jason had plenty of work-readiness skills to show from his nine years in retail at Supercheap Auto.

Being able to show he was a reliable worker with a get-up-and-go attitude clearly shone through and he landed the job – much to his surprise.

“I wasn’t expecting that at all! I’m starting in January and can’t wait.”

Opening doors

MITO’s acting regional manager Mark Lawrence says the training organisation had previously interviewed Jason and was happy to recommend him when the role at Mercedes came up.

“He was work ready and knew what he wanted to do. We were happy with the way he interviewed and his motivation and passion for the trade. Plus he was already working, which showed his good work ethic.”

The role at Mercedes is a fantastic and sought-after opportunity that Jason has managed to secure, says Mark.

“Every mechanic dreams of working on nice cars. Working for a company like Mercedes-Benz is prestigious and it’s an opportunity that doesn’t come up very often. Jason’s achievement is the outcome we’re always looking for.”

Jason’s story is proof that employers in the trades sector place value on candidates having a positive attitude and willingness to learn. They also look for employment experience, even if it’s from a different sector – like in Jason’s case.

Why not get paid for it?

Despite working his way up to an assistant manager position at Supercheap Auto, Jason finally made the decision to pursue an automotive career last year.

“I’ve been fixing my cars at home since I’ve had a car and I thought, ‘Why not get paid for it? I pretty much do that anyway.’

“If I want to get a bit of money and go somewhere in 10 years time, I want a better paying job than I could have gotten without a qualification. I’ve already got a good base knowledge of how to fix cars so that made me go and learn it as a trade.”

Shifting out of neutral

Jason’s only regret is waiting so long to get a formal qualification.

“I was thinking about studying for years but it was hard to leave my job. I’d applied for an automotive course after high school but it was too full.

I got a full-time job and I kept thinking about applying to study,but then I’d get a promotion at work. Now I wish I gone to study and get a trade earlier.”

After eventually making the decision to get a trade qualification, Jason successfully completed a 12-month Certificate in Autotronics at Unitec.

Being of Ngapuhi descent, he was eligible for a full-fees scholarship from Māori and Pasifika Trades Training Auckland, plus ongoing coaching from one of our Navigators.

“Getting the scholarship was great because it meant I didn’t have to pay for my fees. Now I don’t have much of a student loan to pay, so that’s a big help.”

Through his job at Mercedes, Jason will now be working towards MITO’s New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Engineering – Light Vehicle. He will also benefit from support from an advisor at MITO, to help him complete his qualification.

 

Jason Pou receiving scholarship
Jason Pou receiving MITO scholarship from Brian Messer and Mark Lawrence at Unitec Awards Evening, 13 November 2017

 

Avoiding the shortcuts

Jason will be working for Mercedes as an apprentice mechanic and he’s excited about his future.

“I definitely wanted to do an apprenticeship. It will probably take me about three years to complete but it means I’ll be fully qualified so I can work around the world one day if I want to.”

And in case you’re wondering what kind of car Jason drives, it’s a deceptively-quick Mazdaspeed Axela turbo.

“I like being out in it because, when people pull up beside me, they think it’s a nana car. But it’s a 2.3 litre turbo so it’s way faster than they realise!”

Are you interested in a career as a mechanic or automotive technician? Find out more about how to train, where to train, and how to find an apprenticeship.

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

 

Qualified! Hawkins Māori & Pasifika Apprentice Scheme

Earlier this month, we celebrated four of our trainees becoming qualified tradesmen under the guidance of their respective mentors in the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice scheme.
Bo Waitere

Bo started his electrical apprenticeship in December 2014 with Caldwell & Levesque Electrical and now proudly has his own C&L van as a qualified electrician.

Jerome Holland

Jerome started his electrical apprenticeship in December 2014 also with Caldwell & Levesque Electrical and again proudly wears his new title of a qualified electrician.

Qualified electricians, Bo Waitere and Jerome Holland
Bo Waitere, left and Jerome Holland, right, with their mentor, Graeme Cox

Mackenzie Buchan

Mackenzie started his carpentry apprenticeship in March 2014 with Livefirm Construction and recently completed his apprenticeship with Hawkins

Certified Carpenter Mackenzie Buchan
Mackenzie Buchan, right, with his mentor Paul Wikiriwhi

Aarona Kingi-Paparoa

Aaron started his carpentry apprenticeship in December 2012 with Livefirm Construction and completed his last few years with CLM Carpenters. 

Certified Carpenter Aarona King-Paparoa
Aarona Kingi-Paparoa with his mentor, Richard Hughes

These boys had their own trials and tribulations to battle throughout their apprenticeship and have come out on top! Each of them should be so proud. Ngā mihi nui to all our mentors for seeing the boys through their apprenticeship adventures! 

C&L Apprentice of the year

In another win for the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice programme, Talmage Park has won the 2017 C&L Apprentice of the Year award. Talmage is pictured above receiving the award on-site from Stuart Caldwell. 

Caldwell & Levesque Electrical currently employs over 30 apprentices, six of whom came to us through the Hawkins Māori & Pasifika apprentice scheme.

Talmage has done extremely well this year in all facets of his apprenticeship: academically, with his unit standard sign-offs; and with his work on site. He is a positive but humble young man with a ‘can do’ attitude and is a very worthy recipient of this award.

Upon receiving the award Talmage said: “I can’t wait to show my mum”. What a great response from this young man with a big future!

C&L Apprentice of the year award winner Talmage Park
Congratulations to Talmage Park, pictured left, receiving the C&L Apprentice of the Year Award from Stuart Caldwell

 

Bright spark

Father-of-four Andrew Leota always knew his true passion was in the trades. The 34-year-old had dabbled in other jobs while he focused on his kids, who are aged between one and eight. But last year, Andrew decided it was time to find an outlet for the hands-on skills he’s passionate about.

“I thought to myself, I’m not getting any younger. Now I want to do something that makes me happy – and it’s always been electrical.”

Powering up

Andrew, who received a scholarship from Māori and Pasifika Trades Training: Auckland (MPTT Auckland), is due to finish his Level 4 training at Manukau Institute of Technology this month.

Having previously worked as an air traffic controller in Samoa and as a youth worker for the Ministry for Vulnerable Children in New Zealand, Andrew already has years of work experience under his belt.

This has given him a solid foundation of work readiness skills, from time management to teamwork.

Armed with these skills and his new qualification, Andrew is now keen to find his first job in the industry.

Taking charge

Andrew is committed to putting in the hard yards to create a solid foundation for his trades career.

“Some people think once you get a qualification, you have to hit the top and be the boss straight away. But when you’re a new employee, even though you’ve finished school there’s always plenty more learning involved.

“You need to do less attractive jobs and you have to learn from that sort of work. I think people need to understand that, because getting qualified is a lot of work.”

Andrew’s future goals include completing an apprenticeship and eventually starting a business of his own.

“I want to do it properly – get the papers and qualifications and be confident in what I’m doing. Looking towards the future, I want to be my own boss.”