Electrical apprentices awarded for innovation and leadership 

Ian Barnes cropped

The country’s outstanding electrical apprentices have been recognised at the Smiths/Ideal 2018 awards ceremony in Hamilton.

Distributor, Smiths, which has been a stalwart of the electrical trade for 30 years, continues to lead from the front, this year awarding three scholarships for innovation, resilience and leadership.

This year’s competition was hotly contested with applications received from across the country. Smiths’ Co-founder Cecile Smith says, “the awards are all about keeping apprentices motivated. No matter how small the award, it matters and makes a difference.”

Representatives from sponsors Skills and Ideal Electrical Suppliers spoke to the 40-strong gathering about the endless opportunities which exist for innovative and forward-thinking apprentices to progress.

Industry Training Organisation, Skills, currently has 4,500 electrical apprentices on its books. Lance Riesterer, General Manager of Specialist Trades, says the trade is experiencing growth year-upon-year and “offers a lifetime career that can take you around the world.”

It’s a career that Jessica Liggett-Bowring jumped into after five years at boarding school. Now employed by Tauranga’s Energised Electrical, it was Jessica’s ability to help senior colleagues solve complex problems which saw her win the Female Leadership Scholarship and $1,000 worth of tools. “I didn’t think I had a chance of winning, so, this is great as I no longer have to borrow tools from other tradespeople,” she says.

Auckland’s Ian Barnes from Dickson Gray Electrical stood out for his commitment to innovation, bagging himself the $7,500 Ideal Electrical/Smiths tools package. Ian’s design of a cheap, plastic cable lock which holds cables in a centralised position, impressed the judges. “This award means I don’t have to worry about tools for the next five years,” he says.

Caroline Edwards from Auckland’s Callander Electrics took out the Cecile Smith Scholarship for her resilience in the workplace. She says, having her training fees paid for a year “means a lot.”

With the electrical trade offering a plethora of career choices, it’s hoped more would-be apprentices will be drawn to the industry and the awards. But, no matter how the industry evolves, Cecile Smith’s focus will always be to encourage the next generation of electricians. “Our greatest asset is our young people. We must motivate them to achieve great things.”

(Caption - left to right) William Durning CEO Waikato Chamber of Commerce, Ian Barnes, Caroline Edwards, Smiths Co-founder Cecile Smith, Jessica Liggett-Bowring)