PAR­ENTS URGED to take trades se­ri­ously

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - NEWS -

MAIN­TE­NANCE EN­GI­NEER Tau­ta­la­fua Mata’afa went to univer­sity when he left school, but it was a costly mis­take.

“I went to uni for one se­mes­ter after high school and that cost me five grand. That’s when I re­alised I wasn’t re­ally into just study­ing, I was more into prac­ti­cal work and work­ing with tools.”

He spent the next few years as a labourer in var­i­ous sec­tors in New Zealand and Aus­tralia be­fore start­ing an ATNZ ap­pren­tice­ship in main­te­nance en­gi­neer­ing at Pa­cific Steel in Auck­land. He’s now a qual­i­fied trades­man work­ing at Steelpipe in One­hunga.

“An ap­pren­tice­ship is an­other path­way, you don’t have to go to uni,” he says.

Mata’afa’s ex­pe­ri­ence is why par­ents and teach­ers of school leavers need to start tak­ing ca­reers in trades se­ri­ously as teens are miss­ing out on gen­uine op­por­tu­ni­ties to avoid stu­dent loans and get ahead, states Com­pe­tenz.

Fiona Kings­ford, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of the in­dus­try train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion says while around 60,000 teenagers leave school each year, just four per­cent of them go straight into trades train­ing.

“We need to triple that. More than half of New Zealand’s ap­pren­tices and trainees have al­ready been to univer­sity or an­other ter­tiary in­sti­tute and many of them have clocked up stu­dent debt. But they could have avoided that debt al­to­gether and started an ap­pren­tice­ship straight away.

“Re­search shows that be­cause ap­pren­tices start earn­ing ear­lier, they can buy a house ear­lier and pay off a mort­gage ear­lier, which puts them fi­nan­cially ahead of univer­sity grad­u­ates for most of their work­ing lives, and at about the same fi­nan­cial po­si­tion when they’re ready to re­tire.

“Our mis­sion is to ed­u­cate not only school leavers about their op­por­tu­ni­ties, but also their par­ents and ca­reers ad­vis­ers too.”

Com­pe­tenz works with ap­pren­tices and trainees across 36 sec­tors in­clud­ing me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing, one of New Zealand’s big­gest growth ar­eas.

Kings­ford says that In­fo­met­rics data shows that New Zealand will need 5,500 more work­ers in the me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing sec­tor be­tween now and 2022 to fill new jobs and re­place work­ers who re­tire or leave.

“That’s just one sec­tor, and with such a small num­ber of school leavers go­ing into the trades, em­ploy­ers are all com­pet­ing for the same pool of peo­ple. We need to get more school leavers into trades now, or the skills short­age will only get worse.

“A lot of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing is aided by par­ents and fam­ily mem­bers and a lot of the time it’s what mum and dad know of those in­dus­tries. But we need our young peo­ple to be aware of all the op­por­tu­ni­ties out there.”

Com­pe­tenz works closely with Ap­pren­tice Train­ing New Zealand (ATNZ), the coun­try’s largest em­ployer of me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing ap­pren­tices.

“ATNZ has re­cruited 105 ap­pren­tices this year, and still has an­other 50 ap­pren­tice­ship va­can­cies to fill across the coun­try. Auck­land em­ploys one third of me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neers, and cou­pled with strong fu­ture pop­u­la­tion growth, the re­gion still holds good prospects for those en­ter­ing the sec­tor. That said, rents and house prices are sky rock­et­ing in Auck­land, so work­ing in smaller re­gions al­lows peo­ple to eas­ily re­lo­cate and en­joy a higher qual­ity of life.

“There are gen­uine op­por­tu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try,” states Kings­ford.

Com­pe­tenz is one of nine in­dus­try train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions be­hind the Got a Trade? Got it Made! cam­paign launched by Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Chris Hip­kins at Par­lia­ment last month. The cam­paign aims to re­cruit more school leavers into ap­pren­tice­ships across New Zealand.

• Ap­pren­tice­ship va­can­cies across all Com­pe­tenz sec­tors: http://go­ta­trade.com­pe­tenz.org.nz

• ATNZ va­can­cies: www.atnz.org.nz/ap­pren­tices.

TAU­TA­LA­FUA MATA’AFA

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