Manukau and Papatoetoe students learn about engineering jobs

Press Release – Competenz
Year 12 mechanical engineering students were given a peak behind the scenes when two engineering companies and an equipment supplier opened their doors for a Competenz careers open day. The objective? To show students how a chosen vocational pathway can link up with a trades apprenticeship, and what subjects, such as maths, English and computing, they should focus on at school to prepare.

Nineteen students from Manukau’s Aorere College and Papatoetoe High School spent a day visiting Grayson Engineering, Stevenson Engineering and Blackwoods Protector Safety accompanied by their technology teachers and Competenz staff.

“The careers open day was a rare chance for mechanical engineering students to watch tradespeople at work,” explains Competenz Trades Training General Manager, Fiona Kingsford. “Students were able to see first-hand what they might be doing in a trades career, and how the subjects they choose at school can prepare them for an apprenticeship.”

Papatoetoe Careers and Gateway Advisor Dianne Smith thought it was a valuable experience. “The students saw heavy engineering at Grayson, and a lot of different trades – electrical, hydraulics, machining – at Stevenson. It gives them a great insight into different career paths within mechanical engineering.”

Students were also impressed. “The careers day and site visits gave me a really good idea of what I could be doing when I leave school,” said Papatoetoe student Viddhant Patel. “The work environments are pretty cool and everyone helps out.”

Aorere College Deputy Principal Stuart Kelly said the careers open day was brilliant. “It helps bridge the gap between industry and school. With these onsite visits teachers and students can see the trades career pathways more clearly, especially when they are given a talk from someone like Jason Cancare at Stevenson Engineering.”

Technical Account Manager Jason Cancare told the ambitious young group what Stevenson looks for in apprentices. “Stevenson only recruits top-level apprentices. Maths, English and computing skills are really important. Pre-trade training helps, as it shows an employer you’re keen. You have to have the right attitude. You have to be passionate. You have to be prepared to do overtime. A trade can be stressful, but also very satisfying.”

Stevenson diesel mechanic apprentice Brendon Cure, who is in his fourth year, gave a first-hand account of what it was like to be an apprentice. “Stevenson is a really supportive company that really values its tradespeople. I’ve been working seven days on, seven days off in the Waihi gold mine, which is awesome! My advice is to prepare for a trade while you’re still at school by choosing the right pathway.”

All students attending the careers day are enrolled in Year 13 mechanical engineering for next year.

The day began at Grayson Engineering, one of the largest structural fabrication companies in the country, responsible for landmark projects like Auckland’s Sky City complex, Otago Stadium and Eden Park for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. General Manager David Moore explained to the students the type of work Grayson does, the skills needed, and the background on several large projects.

Students were then given a tour to see staff fabricating, cutting and welding project components. They were most impressed with the fabrication of a 2.5 metre high I-beam for a bridge being built near Taupo.

At Blackwoods Protector Safety students were given a hands-on power-tool demonstration and a talk on eye safety.

The visit to Stevenson Engineering concluded the day. This 100 year-old family firm specialises in servicing mining equipment, engine overhauls, hydraulic engineering, auto electrical and other trades. Students were given a tour of the plant, observing the many trades up close.

Competenz is the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) for the Engineering, Manufacturing, Baking, and Food and Beverage Manufacturing industries. Through its network of offices, Competenz looks after the needs of nearly 2,000 businesses, helping 12,000 people develop their skills on the job each year.

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