This is the third article of our "Keep Employing Youth (KEY)" series, highlighting the value of youth employees in the Tararua District. Watch this space!
Pahiatua apprentice engineer, Sam Biddle, loves his job and the company he works for, local engineering company Jackson Enterprises.
Although Sam has not been with the company long, he already feels he is in the ‘right place’ and that he made the right choice when deciding on a career.
"I always had an interest in engineering, so when I left school, I enrolled at UCOL and did a one year pre- apprenticeship course to see what I thought.
"It was good because they offered different types of hands on engineering experience, including heavy fabrication, which is what I am doing here."
Over the years, many young people have begun their careers at Jackson Enterprises. The company has a philosophy of encouraging and helping them as much as they can.
Manager Paul Hearst says as a result they have a very good retention rate, with many choosing to stay with the company after they have completed their training.
"The company has always been very community minded and puts a lot into our apprentices, many of which are locals.
"Before we sign them up on an apprenticeship, we have them working here and we make sure they are capable of doing the work. Unfortunately, you do get some that start an apprenticeship and then pull out and we want to avoid that.
"Because we put a lot into them, we want to see them succeed. I’ve had positive feedback from Sam’s foreman and all the guys around him. Everyone is really happy with the way he is performing, which is why we have offered him an apprenticeship.
"I can see a lot of possibilities in Sam, all the feedback on his progress so far has been really good and we’re very happy with him."
The apprenticeship course - which takes three years to complete - not only involves hands-on work experience, but includes several two and three week block courses each year that have to be attended.
This means that the apprentice is away from work and there are costs for travel and accommodation to be met, something Jackson Enterprises are happy to pay for.
"Being an apprentice, they start in the lower wage bracket, so when they go away we don’t make them use their holidays or anything like that, we pay for all of that," says Paul.
So where does Sam see himself in the future, once he has completed his training?
"I haven’t put a lot of thought into the future. As it stands at the moment, I’d like to stay here after my apprenticeship and carry on working for the company.
"I’m really happy here, it’s a great place to work for and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’ll see where it takes me; a lot can change in three years."
- BARBARA GILLHAM