For three UCOL automotive students, the Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) has given them the chance to turn a one year certificate into careers they’re thrilled with.
Jadyn Thornby-Reid, Kane Mourad, and Liam Hamilton-Church are celebrating landing full-time apprenticeships with Wanganui Toyota and Engine Rebuilders.
“I’ve always been into cars, and at the start of the year my girlfriend gave me the hard word and said I needed to do something,” says Liam. “I’d been getting in trouble with the law, so decided to shift up to Whanganui, move in with my Dad, and give myself a real chance. I saw the New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Engineering on UCOL’s website and it was easy – I was enrolled in 30 minutes.”
For Liam, UCOL’s MPTT initiative has made a huge difference to his study. “It’s not just the scholarship itself, which covered all my course fees. During lockdown they provided me with a tablet so I could keep studying at home, they’ve helped cover the cost of a good internet connection, our overalls and boots, even the cost to get my restricted and forklift licenses. Kelly’s working on getting us full toolkits – people don’t realise that’s usually a couple of grand right there.”
“I was dreading the costs when I decided to study. If I had known that MPTT was around, I would have told my younger self to get back to school way sooner.”
The support from MPTT isn’t just financial though. Kelly Johnston, UCOL’s Kaituhono Mahi Kaiarataki, says that their focus is on building work-ready graduates who have high expectations for themselves. “It’s about giving our students the best opportunities we can, and creating a mind-set of ‘qualification first’ – get that, and then you can go anywhere.”
“We work with local organisations like 100% Sweet to run training and regular workshops on all sorts of skills, and we collaborate with industry partners and iwi leaders,” says Kelly Johnston. “There’s specialist days and employment events - students outside of MPTT see how motivated our students are, and they’re encouraged to take part as well.”
Jadyn found that this approach was imbedded throughout the programme. “Our tutor Johan was amazing,” says Jadyn. “He’s easy to approach and there’s a lot of banter. He explained to us what bosses are looking for, how to approach them about work experience, and not to ever give up, even if we got a no – we had to keep looking.”
That wisdom had a big impact on Jadyn and Kane, who have turned work experience with Wanganui Toyota into full apprenticeships. “It’s pretty amazing – it means I don’t have to work another part-time job as well,” says Jadyn. “I can just focus on my field.”
“Originally Wanganui Toyota only had one apprenticeship position available. We were a bit freaked out but by the end of our placement, the Workshop Manager Shane Jordan decided he was so impressed, he created a second role so they could keep us both.”
So what does the future look like? For Jadyn and Kane they’re signed on with a seven-year Toyota contract, an opportunity to fully develop their skills with an industry leader. For Liam, he’s looking forward to smashing out his apprenticeship work and following it up with further study in machining and engine reconditioning. “It was my favourite thing I learn about this year, and working at Engine Rebuilders has just confirmed it. My boss Tim is great at teaching, and all the guys want to help me learn. I’ve found my calling, and I know it’s what I want to do.”
Images: Jaydn (brunette) and Liam (cap). Credit to UCOL