‘Hey­day’ again for ap­pren­tices

Central Leader - - WHAT’S ON - DAVID BURROUGHS

‘‘The pro­por­tion of ap­pren­tices in the work­force is the same as the mid-80s, which many con­sider the hey­day’’

It took 16 years for Jose Arm­strong to re­alise his dream and land an elec­tri­cal ap­pren­tice­ship.

The 39-year-old moved to New Zealand from Peru in search of a bet­ter job in 2001 and for the last three years has been work­ing as an ap­pren­tice at Rimu Elec­tri­cal in New Ply­mouth.

‘‘It’s hard enough if English is your first lan­guage,’’ he said.

‘‘But my English is quite fresh, I sound like I jumped out of the boat last night.’’

Ear­lier this month, the Govern­ment an­nounced there were 43,000 ap­pren­tices na­tion­wide in 2016, up from 42,055 in 2015.

De­spite the lan­guage bar­rier, Arm­strong said he was en­joy­ing work­ing and learn­ing at Rimu along­side Sean Phillips, 26, who started his ap­pren­tice­ship a year and a half ago, and Jenna Pil­lette, 36, who started in Oc­to­ber last year.

Pil­lette and Phillips both stud­ied to­gether at the West­ern In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in Taranaki (Witt) while Arm­strong be­gan his stud­ies through ETCO be­fore start­ing at Rimu.

Their ap­pren­tice­ships in­volved a lot of hands-on work which had to be doc­u­mented and sent back to The Skills Or­gan­i­sa­tion, which ran the ap­pren­tice­ships, Phillips said.

‘‘You go out with the qual­i­fied guys and they show you the ropes while you do the hard work,’’ he laughed.

While Phillips and Pil­lette found an ap­pren­tice­ship place­ment fairly eas­ily, Arm­strong said it had been quite dif­fi­cult for him

The other two agreed and said most of the other stu­dents in their classes had been much younger than them.

‘‘They want them straight out of school,’’ Pil­lette said.

In­dus­try Train­ing Fed­er­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Josh Wil­liams said the rise of ap­pren­tice­ships was fan­tas­tic.

He said the pro­por­tion of ap­pren­tices in the work­force is the same as the ‘‘hey­day’’ of the mid-80s.

As­so­ciate Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion, Skills and Em­ploy­ment Min­is­ter Louise Up­ston said the govern­ment was aim­ing for 50,000 ap­pren­tices by 2020.

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