Mum finds her niche under the bonnet
Kelly Ayres spent years in jobs she wasn’t passionate about, but has now found her calling as an automotive mechanic.
The mother of four from Wainuiomata previously worked as a cook, a barista and a bartender, which paid the bills but never made her happy.
Now an apprentice at Gavin Shute Auto in Wainuiomata, she says her decision to take a pretrade automotive engineering course at Weltec last year has put her in her element.
‘‘It’s hands-on. There’s plenty of problem-solving, which I really like. It’s satisfying making things work and seeing how they work.’’
She had always enjoyed tinkering with cars but said it was only when her kids, now 16, 14, 13 and 7, got older that she was able to commit to a mechanics course.
Gavin Shute owner Phil Wyburn, who has taken Ayres on as an apprentice, said she immediately impressed him when she came in for work experience.
‘‘She stayed here for 11 hours, she only had to be here for eight. She asked a lot of questions and was highly motivated.’’
She proved her aptitude by helping him pull a gearbox out of a car, and correctly handed him back all the parts in reverse order as it was being reinstalled.
Wyburn said Ayres was an ideal apprentice and ‘‘ticked all the boxes’’.
Ayres has impressed more than just her boss, with the Motor Trade Association having awarded her a scholarship as part of its 100-year celebrations.
An MTA spokeswoman said the scholarships were an incentive to apprentices and business owners alike.
There was a skills shortage across the trades and they wanted to encourage more automotive employers to take on apprentices.
There were over 100 applicants for the scholarships which were awarded after an interview process.
Hers was one of 32 scholarships given to apprentice motorbike and general mechanics, collision repairers and auto electricians.
The scholarship covered her study fees and subsidised Gavin Shute Auto in recognition of the costs involved with her training.
She was glad to have won the scholarship and said not having to worry about fees meant she could concentrate on learning as much as she could.
Kelly Ayres and Phil Wyburn get their hands dirty under the bonnet of an SUV.