When Marc Tai left secondary school in Tokoroa several years ago, he walked straight into a job with a local engineering company and has never looked back.
He has now been working in the engineering trade for well over 10 years but until recently had no formal trade qualification to show for it.
It’s a factor that bothered Marc personally, but also impacted his ability to earn to his full potential.
“Before I started my apprenticeship I thought I knew quite a lot about fabrication and welding but I was wrong – I learnt a lot along the way,” he says.
Marc started an apprenticeship when he was younger, but lacked the level of support he needed to complete the qualification.
However, in April of this year, he completed his Level 4 National Certificate in Engineering, specialising in heavy fabrication – an achievement of which he is very proud.
Marc says that part of him wishes he had completed his apprenticeship a lot earlier as he would have greatly benefitted from the recognition and skills gained at that stage in his career.
He has no regrets though, and is just glad he finally has a qualification that acknowledges his years of experience within this industry.
“I realised that time was running out, and I felt like I needed to have my skills and experience recognised for me to progress in my career,” says Marc.
“It’s absolutely true that being qualified gives tradespeople more credibility in the industry – not to mention more pay.”
And while he did work, Marc took a temporary pay cut in order to complete his apprenticeship.
He completed his heavy fabrication apprenticeship at Stevenson Engineering, his current employer and a leading provider of equipment and heavy engineering solutions for the mining and construction industries with over 400 pieces of mobile and plant equipment.
“The support from my employer has been great – they really helped motivate and push me through my qualification.
“Working in the weld division and interacting with our company’s other divisions from time to time gives me huge work variety.
“One week I could be in our workshop fabricating one-off items, the next I might be travelling off-site to repair and maintain machines and equipment at mines and quarries we service around New Zealand,” says Marc.
His apprenticeship took three and a half years to complete, and was managed by Apprentice Training New Zealand, or ATNZ – the country’s largest employer of mechanical engineering apprentices.
Marc was supported throughout his training by Competenz Account Manager, Peter Briton, whose role is to guide apprentices through their training and ensure that they stay on track to complete on time.
“Completing an apprenticeship is challenging,” says Marc, “but I am glad I didn’t take any shortcuts and miss out on any valuable learning experiences.”
In hindsight, Marc believes that maths is a key subject students need to pay particular attention to at school if they wish to work in the engineering industry.
And Marc would strongly recommend to anyone considering an apprenticeship to take the plunge today, as there is far more to gain from qualifying now, rather than later.
He’s the first to admit he’s now hooked on learning, and he recently enrolled to complete his Level 5 National Certificate in Engineering – Fabrication to advance his trade and business skills.
“At Stevenson Engineering they do encourage us to develop and grow our skills, and I’m really grateful for their continued support to help me go even further.”
If you are like Marc and are skilled and experienced in your trade, but hold no formal trade qualification, Assessment of Prior Learning (APL) is designed for you. APL allows you to demonstrate your knowledge through assessment, so that you can gain a qualification.
For more information on mechanical engineering apprenticeships or APL to get trade qualified, contact Competenz on 0800 526 1800
or visit www.competenz.org.nz