Sparky Joshua is his own boss at age 21
Hamilton’s Joshua Phillips completed his electrical apprenticeship a month ago. He started his own business two days before turning 21, and has now been named New Zealand’s top independent tertiary student.
The former Electrical Training Company (Etco) apprentice scooped the Independent Tertiary Education New Zealand (ITENZ) Domestic Student of the Year title at the awards event in Hamilton earlier this month.
Joshua said he had been delighted to be a finalist but was surprised to win the award, organised by the Quality Commission to recognise excellence across the independent tertiary sector.
“It’s very cool for a sparky to win an award like this,” said Joshua. “Especially considering it is for students in any sector of industry.” Joshua left Hillcrest High School at the end of Year 12 to take up his four-year apprenticeship with Etco, New Zealand’s leading provider of electrical apprentices.
His training combined block release courses with on-the-job learning with a host company in Hamilton. He worked mainly on rural projects, including wiring cattlesheds and irrigation systems. Now he is busy with his own business, Fusion Control Systems, working on rural and light industrial and commercial electrical projects.
During his apprenticeship, which he completed last month, he was named Etco Apprentice of the Year for 2017 and was also among 12 high-achieving apprentices selected for a Future Leaders programme, including business and leadership training.
Joshua’s ITENZ citation praised his commitment, leadership ability and dedication to learning, noting: “He consistently goes above and beyond in his learning and his work for clients and he pushes the boundaries of his study. He has displayed excellence, maturity and determination with an exceptional dedication to learning under all circumstances”.
Joshua said he had learned about Etco from his careers advisor at school.
“My school ran a programme to give you a taste of different trades. I tried building, plumbing and electrical and enjoyed the electrical — because of its complexity,” he said.
“I gained amazing across-the-board experience during my apprenticeship. As an apprentice, your friends might be earning more than you — but I kept the big picture in mind. I have no student debt. My training’s been paid for, I’ve been given amazing opportunities — and now I’m my own boss in a sought-after profession.
Etco’s National Learning Support Officer David Barnes was also named ITENZ Tutor of the Year and won the overall Supreme Award.
To become an Etco apprentice, you need Level Two NCEA eight credits (or more in each subject) in maths, English and science (preferably an industry-related science. You also need at least a restricted manual drivers’ licence and a car, at least New Zealand residency and good colour vision.
Joshua Phillips, 21, named the Independent Tertiary Education New Zealand (ITENZ) Domestic Student of the Year.