[From front to back] Jamie Griggs (mentor), Matai Byl (foreman), Jayden Carter (building apprentice), Kawiti Paewhenua (building apprentice) at last night’s graduation and awards. PHOTO/ELI HILL

Apprenticeships give youth more opportunities

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

The future of trades and industry in Wairarapa looks to be in safe hands after around 200 graduating apprentices and trainees, and business leaders celebrated the Wairarapa Apprentice and Industry Trainee Graduation and Awards on Wednesday night.

Held at Copthorne Hotel and Resort, the event recognised apprentices who had completed Level 2 qualifications and above, in the mechanical, building and construction, healthcare, rest home, electrical, service and retail sectors.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said the ceremony was about celebrating people who had chosen to upskill in their jobs.

“Further training is always important,” she said.

“If we don’t continue to upskill we will lose the skills we need in this region. It isn’t just for the graduates though, we’re also acknowledging the businesses who are providing the training to these people.”

Among the high-profile speakers at the event were Minister of Employment Willie Jackson and Minister of Defence Ron Mark.

Director of Power Related Services Charlie Grant had two apprentices graduating at the awards ceremony, and has also committed to training another two over the next year.

Grant, who began his career as an apprentice electrical lineman said his motivation for taking apprentices on was to give young people opportunity in Wairarapa.

“There’s a whole lot of gaps out there that need to be filled by apprentices and I think they should be filled by locals.

“The hard thing for smaller companies is that the big guys are able to bring in people from overseas already trained. Taking someone on [as an apprentice] can affect your costs.”

All the apprentices he’s employed and trained in the past year range in age from 19 years to 30, with his two new apprentices coming from labouring backgrounds.

He said the apprentices he had trained would stay with his business.

“I think it’s great the Wairarapa mayors have taken the initiative to recognise what these young people are doing,” Grant said.

“It’s good for the graduates, it gives them a boost in recognition for all the hard work they’ve put in.”

Organised by the Mayors’ Taskforce For Jobs, and Local Government New Zealand, the awards received support from Wairarapa’s three district councils, the Industry Training Federation and Copthorne Hotel and Resort.