ATNZ/MTA partnership paves a smooth road for apprentices

20 June 2019

CarPro Penrose has recently taken on its fifteenth apprentice, but this time it’s different.

Trainee spray painter Jarrett Rameka was recruited by Apprentice Training NZ (ATNZ) as part of the MTA/ATNZ Group Apprenticeship Scheme. All of his payroll and HR needs are carried out by ATNZ, supported through his course work by ATNZ, but given practical supervision by CarPro staff.

For CarPro owner Lee Burridge it’s been an easy ride.

“Finding an apprentice can take a lot of time. Advertising can either get you no one, or you have to sort through a lot of names and try to make the right choice. If you make the wrong one, it can be very difficult to end the situation.”

Five weeks into the apprenticeship, Lee says the new apprentice is working out well. “Jarrett may not technically be my employee but he’s definitely part of the team.”

To make it easier for members to take on apprentices, MTA developed the partnership with ATNZ. Through the scheme, the MTA member provides a safe work site, the necessary on-the-job supervision and pays ATNZ an hourly rate for the apprentice’s time. Everything else is ATNZ’s responsibility, including all pay entitlements, KiwiSaver and training costs.

Lee says, “It costs a little more than the annual apprentice salary but it saves me time in recruitment – you know the person has already been screened, and if for some reason it doesn’t work out, ATNZ takes care of it.”  Like many members, Lee finds the legalities around staff management daunting and is pleased this part of apprenticeship training is taken over by ATNZ.

Lee also believes that ATNZ’s supervision and regular meetings with him, Jarrett and MITO, mean he’s getting much better information on the apprentice’s progress.

Keen to learn

Jarrett seems pleased to be given the chance to get started. “I was at Manukau Institute of Training last year doing a pre-trades auto refinishing course when ATNZ interviewed for apprentices.”

At 31, he’s a bit of a late starter. He has a Bachelor of Information Technology, but it wasn’t until he was doing some part time work helping paint industrial machinery that he had his ‘lightbulb moment’.  “I really enjoyed it.” He’s not into mechanics but has always loved cars – so moving into auto spray painting was a logical move.

“I’m loving it here. It’s different to my part time job. You have to pay far more attention to detail working on cars, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist so that just makes it more interesting.”

MTA leading the way

MTA President Dave Harris has also taken on an apprentice through the scheme. Liam Coleman started in March and is enjoying his new job.

Dave says, “With MTA trialling this in Auckland and Waikato I thought it was an opportunity to try things in a new way. It is always difficult in a busy business to fully mentor and support young staff, particularly when managers and owners have multiple roles and are often not on the site. It can lead to some apprentices falling behind on their paperwork, feeling neglected and possibly losing heart. By using the ATNZ scheme, I am confident I will have professionals looking out for Liam, giving him lots of support and encouragement. This will give him the best opportunity to not only complete but to enjoy his apprenticeship.  I believe this will pay dividends for Liam, our company and the industry once he is qualified.”

MTA Board Director Sturrock Saunders has been promoting the initiative among the membership. 

“MTA is often told by members that they have trouble finding quality candidates and keeping young apprentice technicians. We’re also told that it’s challenging to manage and keep apprentices on track in a busy workshop environment. In response to this feedback, MTA partnered with ATNZ on a group apprenticeship scheme that takes most of the hassle out of employing an apprentice – to the point that your business is not even the employer, you are the ‘host’.”

Sturrock says the ATNZ / MTA Group apprentice scheme will not fit all employers. “However, with nearly 400 apprentices in a number of industries ATNZ have the experience to deliver a complete ‘belts and braces’ approach from screening quality candidates to providing encouragement and support so that both student and business objectives are achieved.

“It is simply not sustainable to keep poaching qualified staff off each other or trying to import technicians from overseas. There is an international shortage of tradespeople and we need to focus on growing our own workforce by developing capable young people.”