09 December 2020
A Hastings trainee mechanical engineer has become the first female finalist of the Apprentice of the Year awards.
The Apprentice Training New Zealand (ATNZ) Apprentice of the Year 2020 award aims to celebrate apprentices who demonstrate outstanding performance, attitude and pride in their work.
Erin Tong was the only Hawke's Bay representative up for the award but missed out on the national award at the ceremony in Auckland.
Tong is working towards her apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering – Machining, with local company We Can Precision Engineering.
We Can managing director Rickie Pike said Tong arrived at the Hastings-based machine shop on work experience while studying for an NZ Certificate in Engineering Trades at EIT.
Pike said the then-student impressed, leading to a scholarship and finishing top of her class.
"It was no surprise that we offered Erin an apprenticeship once she finished her certificate and we are proud to see her set a great example to all women out there that with the right attitude and willingness to learn, you can do anything," he said.
"We believe that New Zealand's shortage of skilled staff means we need to identify and train our own future engineers and then hold on to them so they become our most skilled employees.
"We are always looking for bright, motivated people to take up our trade and we put a lot of effort into our apprenticeship programme."
Representing the judges, ATNZ general manager Susanne Martin said they had a difficult time choosing the winner, who this year was Lachlan Hamilton-Ralph, a general engineering apprentice. He was also the runner-up for the award last year.
The other finalists were Waikari Beckett, of the Bay of Plenty, and Christchurch-based Liam Humm.
This story first appeared in Hawkes Bay Today on 09 December 2020.