Lack of work for carpentry apprentices

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Carpentry apprentices are on the rise, but there's concern for a lack of work once they've completed their training. Registered Master Builder CE David Kelly hopes the NZ's Apprentice of the Year competition will encouraging more employers to take them on.

Olivia Ward and Atigiapa Merick took out their respective regional competitions to make the national final. To win the national competition, a judging panel interviewed the 10 competitors and set a six-hour practical challenge.

Olivia Ward says, "I think we're just the same as men, you know there's no difference. We still have to learn how to use all the tools and the calculations. It's exactly the same and physically it's not as hard as everyone seems to think it is."

Atigiapa Meyrick says, "Just to be able to match yourself versus your competitors really and see how you grade in the country. I mean, the boss can give you one grade but when you match up against these guys, the best in New Zealand, that's really where it's tested."

Between June 2016 and June 2017, the number of apprentices increased by 1007, yet the number of employers training them only increased by 421. Organisers hope the competition not only promotes the career opportunities in the industry for apprentices but also encourages more employers to take them on.

Atigiapa says, "Just building things in general is great fun. Seeing the end product is the wicked part, when you go and cut that mitre and you line everything up and they come up perfect and that's really the satisfaction. It's pretty cool to be able to do a job where you can go home happy at the end of the day."

Both Olivia and Atigiapa want to help mentor youth and encourage them into this trade.

Atigiapa says, "Teaching them skills and teaching them that perseverance is everything. You don't give up when have a down moment, you just keep pushing through and yeah you can achieve something like this, quite easily, just have to put your mind to it."

Olivia says, "I just lead by example but I would love to, in the future, travel around all girls schools and try and encourage young women to give them the option because I never had the option when I was at school, I just fell into it but I'm grateful I did."

The winner will be announced at the awards dinner tonight.