SpeedMeets widen career choices

Issue: Volume 98, Number 13

Posted: 1 August 2019
Reference #: 1H9wWF

Choosing a career can be hard for some students, but Trade SpeedMeets being held in collaboration with schools and employers are helping to make the decision easier.

Trade SpeedMeet events are giving students an opportunity to quiz trades and service industry employers who are hiring and get answers to important questions like: ‘Where can this industry take me?’ ‘Can I work while I’m studying?’ And the crucial ‘How much could I earn?’

One student who found a career direction through a SpeedMeet is Aucklander Logan Leeuw, now 20. Three years ago he hadn’t decided what to do after leaving school, so on advice from his careers advisor he went to a SpeedMeet.

Logan loved cars and getting his hands dirty but wasn’t sure about a career choice. Most of his classmates were going to university, but Logan wasn’t clear on a tertiary path to follow. 

He spoke to as many of the employers at the SpeedMeet as he could, and to industry training organisation MITO, which arranges automotive apprenticeships. MITO later helped him to become a specialist mechanic through on-the-job training. 

This sector provides jobs for 155,000 New Zealanders, or seven per cent of the workforce. Options include apprenticeships with businesses in the automotive, transport, logistics, industrial textile fabrication and extractive industries. 

“All my questions were answered at the meet and everyone was very helpful,” Logan says. He started at Toyota and recently moved to Lexus, where he is an apprentice in a team of five technicians, and loving it. 

Earning a salary while working means he’ll have no student debt once he is a qualified. 

Logan studies for about three hours each weekend towards his qualification — a National Certificate in Light Automotive (Levels 3 and 4). His studies are supervised by a training advisor. 

He appreciates the one-on-one supervision and prefers on-the-job training to studying full-time at a polytechnic, which was an option.  

“I like the hands-on experience and guidance because I learn new things faster.”

Lexus branch spokesman Graeme Cave says Logan has impressed the company with his proactive attitude and relaxed manner. 

“His technical skills, I feel, are well ahead of a third-year apprentice and I look forward to him improving further with support and guidance.”

Where to from here?

“This career can take me anywhere, including any branch of Lexus around the world,” Logan says. 

“No two days are the same and it’s a real bonus that I’m earning while getting my qualifications. Getting qualified opens up so many opportunities, and I can still go on to uni later with my certificate under my belt.” 

Skill shortage

There is high demand for Logan’s skills in the fast-growing transport sector, where salaries for skilled, experienced automobile technicians can reach $140,000 a year – a reflection of the specialised technology-based expertise needed. 

Kelly Henshaw is service manager at Trucks and Trailers, which employs around 100 people. 

“SpeedMeets are a great opportunity for us to meet potential new apprentices,” he says. 

“There’s a shortage of skilled technicians, so they’re in demand. Our company recently raised our starting rate, but it’s a challenge to find enough apprentices committed to developing themselves to the highest possible technical standard.”

He says the company runs a full training programme. 

“There is a huge opportunity for a great career, which could start in the workshop but can go all the way into management.” 

A career in trades

“We want to encourage young people to consider whether an ‘earn and learn’ career appeals to them,” says Josh Williams, CEO of the Industry Training Federation, “and if it does, we want them to jump in early. 

“Talking to 10 or so different employers from different industries over the course of an hour or so is invaluable all by itself for developing employability skills – meeting real employers, finding out about a wider range of work possibilities and gaining a better understanding of what employers are looking for.”

There are already 145,000 trainees and apprentices in formal on-the-job training at 25,000 workplaces, Josh says. 

“The problem is that only four per cent of school leavers get involved in on-the-job tertiary education when they leave school.” 

Click here to watch a video about Logan.(external link)

Upcoming Trade SpeedMeets

The Ministry of Education, in partnership with a range of industry training organisations, schools and employers, is supporting a series of Trade SpeedMeets to support career planning opportunities for senior high school students.

  • Auckland West, Liston College, Thurs 22 Aug 
  • Katikati, Katikati College, Tues 27 Aug
  • Christchurch, Papanui High School, Wed 28 Aug
  • Hamilton, Hamilton Boys’ High, Thurs 29 Aug
  • Wellington, Hutt Valley High School, Thurs 5 Sept
  • Okaihau, Okaihau College, Wed 11 Sept 
  • Auckland South, Manurewa High School, Wed 11 Sept
  • Gisborne, Campion College, Tues 17 Sept
  • Kaipara, Dargaville High School, Wed 18 Sept 
  • Rotorua, Rotorua Youth Community Centre, Wed 18 Sept
  • Tauranga, Atrium Café, Thurs 19 Sept
  • Napier/Hastings, Hastings Boys’ High School, Thurs 12 Sept
  • Whangarei, Whangarei Boys’ High School, Fri 20 Sept 
  • Whakatane, Trident High School, Thurs 12 Sept

The free events will run from 9am to 3pm. There will be short interviews where work experience, employment or apprenticeship opportunities may be offered to students. Register your students to participate in the interviews here(external link).

Students are encouraged to prepare a CV for the event. 

The Government’s fees-free policy applies to all tertiary study, including apprenticeships and industry training. For more information and to check student eligibility click here(external link).


It’s all about attitude

As an employer, Refining NZ looks for the right attitude from potential apprentices above anything else.

Refining NZ, the country’s only oil refinery, took part in a Trade SpeedMeet last year, looking to take on two apprentices. They spoke to 320 students over two days, then a list of 15 ‘possibles’ was drawn up and a final selection was made. One student was offered a mechanical apprenticeship.

But the company’s people and capability spokeswoman Laura McLennan says it is not easy. 

“We as employers look for the right attitude most of all – good communication skills, interpersonal skills, ability to work in a team, and good listening skills. A lot of students we chatted to didn’t show they had those skills.

“It’s crucial in a workplace like ours, with 350 staff, that people work as a team. From apprentices, we want 110 per cent commitment because they are working beside people who will be mentoring them, and they cannot let down the team.”

She stresses that it’s hard work being an apprentice. The work is full-time and on top of that there are night classes and study for course work towards getting a qualification.

“At the SpeedMeet we can sense engagement, or otherwise, by students we talk to.

Many knew nothing about our company. They hadn’t prepped.”

Laura recommends that students do some research on the companies they will be talking to at a SpeedMeet, to show their commitment, and be prepared to ask questions.

SpeedMeets are very helpful as a quick way to make a choice, she says, as the company is always thinking about recruitment and it gets large numbers of applications and CVs from students wanting mechanical or instrumentation apprenticeships.

 “On paper, they all look the same. It’s hard to differentiate one from the other, so it’s difficult difficult for anyone to stand out. At the SpeedMeets we can get a feel for their potential from a quick chat.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 12:00 pm, 1 August 2019

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