Look ahead 10 years from now and, if Sainila Tagi has his way, he and three of his brothers will be running a full-service family-owned construction company.
With one brother in the building industry, another in plumbing, a third a qualified architect and Sainila on electrical, he says they’ll have all the bases covered to get a family business up and running.
“We are just at the start of it all,” says Sainila, who is two years into his electrical apprenticeship with Team Cabling Ltd. “My brother who is a builder is an exam off being qualified, the brother in plumbing is a year off as well. I have just over a year left to get my ticket. So yes, this family business is something we want to work towards.”
Having worked for his father’s stone masonry business for some years, Sainila knew he wanted a change when the stone work began taking a toll on his body. He had helped his brother out on a building site and looked at his other brother’s plumbing business – but realised that neither of those was the field for him.
So, he signed up for a Unitec electrical pre-trade course and, within weeks, he was hooked.
“In my first few weeks, I just got engaged and loved it,” says Sainila. “Just learning about these formulas and how electricity functions and things, I found it very interesting. And so, from that point on, I locked my mind on the electrical field and knew that is what I wanted to do.”
Back to School
But, though Sainila loved the electrical pre-trade course, he admits he was initially concerned about going back to study.
“For me, I didn’t come out of school and go into tertiary study,” he says. “I went straight into work. So, to jump back into study was a bit of a gamble for me. I was wondering, would I do well? But then I really enjoyed what I was doing.”
There was one thing that he did find challenging though – speaking up and admitting when he didn’t know the answer in class or needed further explanation.
“Absolutely. If I was stuck on something, I would try and keep it to myself and then google the answer later. But, when I did open up, the tutors really were there to help you learn and encouraged you to ask the questions you needed to ask.”
The lure of electrical
In terms of on-the-job training, Sainila believes Team Cabling has been brilliant at allowing him to be exposed to a variety of commercial and domestic work. He says they move apprentices around to ensure they are always learning, which is something he really appreciates.
“For me, it is really an amazing trade,” says Sainila. “Because you are learning about something you can’t physically see. When you look at a live conductor, you can’t see the electricity. You need to understand the different laws and, from that, you’ll be able to understand how electricity flows.”
With electricity though also comes big responsibility – for both the individual and the Team Cabling business.
“With plumbing, you can blow a pipe and get water all over you,” says Sainila. “But if you cut into a live conductor, that could cause a bang or a fire – so there is a lot of responsibility that comes with this trade. And I learnt that safety is a big thing for Team Cabling. They are always reminding us about safety and I didn’t realise the stress they put on safety on site. But now I see why. You always need to be aware of yourself and those around you.”
Jump right in
As for others looking at getting into the electrical trade, Sainila says “just jump in and find out. I thought maybe I’ll try this, I’ll try electrical – and something just clicked.”