To be an excellent electrical tradie, it’s important to know more than just the tools of the trade. You also need to be a good communicator.
That’s how Liam Collis sees it.
Liam, who has been an electrical apprentice at HLS Limited in Auckland since October last year, says it’s really important to be able to get on well with others – as often you can be on a site where there are a number of different trades, all keen to get their part of the job ticked off.
“It’s important is to try and build a relationship with them,” says Liam. “It makes things a lot easier when you’re in and out of different work sites and so on. Even if it is just having a couple of beers together after a hard day on site. Taking some time to get to know them rather than butting heads.”
Third time lucky
Liam, who is 23 and of Ngati Raukawa descent, took a roundabout route to get to the electrical trade. In his final year at high school, he started to lose interest so, at the beginning of Year 13, he stepped out of school and gave the building trade a go.
“That wasn’t for me so then I worked at Noel Leeming for three years or so as an installation specialist,” says Liam. “But that wasn’t going anywhere either. So, I decided to look at pursuing a trade. I had family and friends that were in the electrical industry and I heard nothing but good things. So, I went to sparky school.”
It was at ‘sparky school’, or Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), that Liam met a tutor who would be instrumental in helping kick off his electrical apprenticeship and help get him where he is today. The tutor, Jacob Blackwell, effectively took Liam under his wing.
“He became a bit of a mentor,” says Liam. “He took me on unpaid work experience, to little jobs he was doing here and there – which was super beneficial to me and gave me an idea of what to expect. And he inspired me, gave me tips and different little things to expect - like what to look for and how to hold myself on the job. Things like that.”
Tips for the trades
As far as what Liam is proud of, he says it’s the simple things, such as getting the acknowledgement from the boss that you’re doing well, and leaving a site knowing you have done a great job.
“Make sure you leave a worksite proud of the work you have done,” he advises other potential apprentices. “There are a lot of cowboys out there and a lot of dodgy work. So be proud of your work. After all, it is your reputation. Some people get a big head and are assh*les to everyone else. Try not to be that guy.”
He still has a way to go on his apprenticeship, but as far as Liam is concerned, he’s in it for the long haul.
“I still have a lot to learn – which is probably an understatement!” says Liam. “But I am just keen to learn. If you’re at the finish line and making a lot of money, that’s awesome. But learning, in my opinion, makes work enjoyable. And I’m learning every day.”