Why apprenticeships work so well
With New Zealand’s construction industry going ballistic, a lot of construction companies are looking to hire new staff. Do they stick with their subbies, bring in qualified builders or take on an apprentice? Stefan Cammell, owner of Cammell Projects in Queenstown believes it’s an employer’s responsibility to upskill the next generation and take on apprentices.
“Taking on an apprentice is an investment in the future of your business and the construction industry”
“Taking on an apprentice is an investment in the future of your business and the construction industry,” says Stefan, who’s been building for 20 years. “It’s a win-win. You’re helping train someone young and motivated and they’re picking up how your business operates, the ethics of your company and your systems. When they become qualified they’re a huge asset to your business.”
What makes a good apprentice?
Cammell Projects’ most recent recruit is 26-year-old Heather Scott-Smith, who joined the crew in May 2018 after responding to a Facebook ad.
“I messaged Stef and said ‘I’m a chick, can I apply for the job?’ and he said ‘of course!’, which was awesome because I’ve had some people treat me differently because I’m female,” says Heather, who’s welcomed the move from her hometown of Dunedin to bustling Queenstown.
“Heather is an example of a great apprentice,” says Stefan, who’s brought on six apprentices over the past nine years. “She’s diligent, listens, takes on board information and works hard. That’s what you need to look for when bringing someone on.”
Two years into a four-year apprenticeship with BCITO (New Zealand’s largest provider of construction trade apprenticeships), Heather loves learning something new every day in a supportive working environment. The hardest part of the job?
“The frustrated look on Stef’s face when I don’t understand what he’s talking about!” she jokes. “It’s great to work for someone who wants to do big jobs not little patch ups. We’re both going in the same direction and I want to work for Stef for many years to come.”
Apprenticeships well worth the time and effort
Stefan says he gets a real kick out of watching his apprentices grow and become skilled but admits it’s more than just teaching the nuts and bolts of carpentry.
“A lot of apprentices are straight out of school so you’re teaching them life skills as much as how to be a builder. You’re teaching them how to turn up to work on time, interact with adults, look after themselves… so it’s a guidance role as well.”
A member of New Zealand Certified Builders, Stefan urges business owners to take the teaching role seriously.
“Apprentice training needs to be treated with respect.”
“Apprentice training needs to be treated with respect. Signing off training units when the apprentice isn’t up to standard isn’t helpful to the apprentice or the industry – it undermines the whole scheme. There’s an onus on the builder to make sure their apprentice is getting the training they need and achieving sign off once competent.”
If you are thinking of employing an apprentice and would this to discuss the impact it may have on your business, call us on (06) 878 8824.