Awards for New Zealand's top apprentice electricians

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JOHN SON

Three outstanding apprentice electricians recently had their talents recognised at an inspiring awards ceremony in Cambridge.

Connor Gotty, Rochelle Arnold, and Hannah Todd were the winners of the inaugural Smiths Electrical Scholarships, which reward the most dedicated apprentices in the industry. The trio received their scholarships, worth thousands of dollars each, at an official ceremony at Smiths’ Cambridge headquarters on May 17.

The scholarships are a joint initiative between Smiths, a leading New Zealand electrical parts supplier, and Skills. Ideal Electrical, another top electrical supplier, sponsored one of the awards.

With the Government reporting an increase of 6,800 apprentices (nearly 19 per cent) since 2012, the scholarships aim to help New Zealand reach its goal of 50,000 apprentices by 2020.

“Simply put, New Zealand needs more skilled electricians, and we need them now,” said Lance Riesterer, Skills’ General Manager – Specialist Trades & Commercial.

“These scholarships recognise the future leaders of the industry. Notably, two of the three winners are from the Waikato region, and it’s great to see there’s talent in all areas of the country.”

The awards ceremony provided the opportunity for several industry leaders to offer words of wisdom to the winners, and to the industry in general. Cecile Smith, one of the founders of Smiths, spoke about the need to “take a page out of the book” of thriving countries that promote vocational education. She emphasised the importance of instilling a culture of innovation in New Zealand’s youth, and urged them to continually strive for excellence.

Darrin Hughes, Managing Director at Ideal Electrical, said that the challenge of attracting young people into trades was a global one, not just in New Zealand. He offered three pieces of advice to the winners: to remember that continued education and learning will set them apart after they finish their apprenticeship, to develop business skills early to support their technical skills, and to really value their work and what they do.

With the first Smiths Electrical Scholarships campaign proving to be a success, the goal will be making the awards even bigger and better in coming years.

Connor Gotty, Amie Amosa (General Manager - Smiths), Rochelle Arnold, Hannah Todd
Connor Gotty, Amie Amosa (General Manager - Smiths), Rochelle Arnold, Hannah Todd
Darrin Hughes (Managin Director - Ideal Electrical), Amie Amosa, Cecile Smith (Founder - Smiths), Lance Riesterer (General Manager Specialist Trades & Commercial - Skills)
Darrin Hughes (Managing Director - Ideal Electrical), Amie Amosa, Cecile Smith (Founder - Smiths), Lance Riesterer (General Manager Specialist Trades & Commercial - Skills)