Inspiring the next generation

To promote industry skill needs, Skills runs an ambassador programme highlighting the achievements of successful New Zealanders in our industries.

Our ambassador programme inspires young Kiwis to enter the trades. It shows them that there are great career opportunities in the trades, that they can earn a good income and a qualification while they work, and that tertiary education doesn’t necessarily mean ‘going to uni’.

Many a young tradie found their spark after hearing straight from those who have gained qualifications while excelling in other areas.

  • Vittoria (Tori) Colonna - Skills ambassadors

    Vittoria (Tori) Colonna

    Advocate for females in trades. University graduate. Mum. Hardworking and passionate electrician at Saint Electrical.

    "Even with a Bachelor of Environmental Management under my belt, I back getting a trade 100%," Tori says.

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    Speaking at various events around New Zealand, Tori hopes to educate young Kiwis about the real career opportunities out there that don’t involve racking up a student loan.

    “I first started my apprenticeship straight out of school, but my path changed and I went into hospitality and started a degree. Years later, I came back to my trade and realised that it’s not easy for anyone,” she says.

    “But it’s one of the most rewarding and flexible things I’ve done in my life. Plus, you’ll never be short of work, with the rising housing shortage and other industry factors. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

    Tori says people often only see the ‘working on the tools’ side of the job, but there’s much more to it. “Eventually I plan to work my way into the project management and leadership aspects of the job, which will be a nice balance between being on site and working in the office with a strategic mind-set,” she explains.

    “There is so much more to a trade than you can imagine. There are so many other opportunities once you become registered that don’t involve being on the tools. Your growth and career potential are unlimited.”

  • Kendra Falefitu - Skills ambassador

    Kendra Falefitu

    It often takes just a role model to inspire someone to do something great. In Kendra Falefitu’s case, seeing other women succeed in the trades inspired her to begin her career as an electrician.

    “I want to encourage more females to get into trades – not just electrical but other trades as well,” says Kendra.

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    “Hopefully by listening to my experiences so far in my apprenticeship, they’ll gain the confidence to step out and do something different.”

    Kendra is currently in the second year of her apprenticeship with Dickson Gray Electrical. When she was still deciding what she wanted to do with her life, her mum suggested doing an apprenticeship.

    Kendra did some research, saw a video of a female electrician talking about her career, and the rest is history.

    So why is working in the trades such a great idea, according to Kendra? “The work is hands-on, so you’re always doing something and not just sitting in an office all day. You’re on different jobs, always moving around,” she says.

    “You get to meet and work with a lot of people in other trades. Having a trade is also handy if you want to travel to other countries and work for good money!” Kendra mentions that getting paid to learn, without racking up a huge student loan, is another big bonus.

    Outside of work, Kendra leads a busy life. She is a talented netball player and her skills have taken her around the world – first playing for the Magic in New Zealand, then the Yorkshire Jets in the UK.

  • Chris Lautua - Skills ambassador

    Chris Lautua

    Helping other people has always been in Chris Lautua’s blood – literally. After all, his major achievements in life include donating bone marrow to help a stranger in need!

    “I like being on the tools but I also like working with people. Becoming an ambassador was the perfect opportunity for me to do that and help promote the trades,” he says.

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    Chris decided to become an electrician after seeing the industry was booming. Coupled with his practical, hands-on skills, it was the perfect opportunity to launch into a new career.

    “The best thing about apprenticeships is that you’re learning on the job and earning money without getting a student loan. Everyone says that, but it really is beneficial in terms of planning your future,” Chris says.

    “Being a tradie is also great because results are tangible. It’s something you can be proud of, looking at a building or project and knowing you played a part in it.”

    After he becomes a qualified sparky, Chris has a couple of ideas of what he’d like to do. Becoming a quantity surveyor is an option. He is also considering starting a business or going back to teach the trade.

    “You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain when you do an apprenticeship,” Chris says.

    “You learn pretty quickly whether it’s something for you, and in any case, you’ll have heaps of opportunities for the next few years.”