Apprentice employer: Be confident and ambitious


Darren Pennington of Mainline Construction Ltd is a firm believer that competing in the Registered Master Builders Carters Apprentice of the Year competition can put you on the path to long term career success, and believes his own experience in a similar competition during his apprenticeship played a big part in getting him to where he is today.

Mr Pennington won the Manukau Institute of Technology Apprentice of the Year in 1991 and 1992, and is now the proud employer and supporter of Auckland Registered Master Builders Carters 2013 Apprentice of the Year finalist Sam Riley, his second apprentice to make it to the finals.
“I started my own business at 21, and it was winning the competition that gave me the confidence to do that. I’ve been training apprentices since I first went into business in 1994,” Mr Pennington says.

“I think it’s really important that my current apprentices see the rewards of hard work. My trainees’ success is my success too — I encourage my guys to be ambitious.”
After being a winning apprentice and the employer of two finalists, Mr Pennington understands what makes a young carpenter Apprentice of the Year material.

“The most important thing an apprentice can have is a good attitude. A good apprentice will want to go the extra mile and take on responsibility — you can teach an apprentice anything as long as they are willing to learn,” he says.
“A good apprentice needs to be an all rounder. They need to turn up on time and have a good sense of professional presentation. Good habits start when you’re an apprentice and follow you through your career.”

Mr Pennington says he makes a point of investing in his apprentices, and he has high expectations of them.
“The challenge with apprentices is finding the right person and giving them good, all-round training. You have to be prepared to share your knowledge and teach them everything you know,” he says.
“I’ve made an effort to train differently from how I was treated when I was an apprentice. I expect a lot from my apprentices, but I give them plenty of opportunities to grow and succeed.”

Mr Pennington thinks believing in his apprentices is incredibly important, and he tells them to back themselves in Apprentice of the Year because the company has confidence in them.
“My advice to my apprentices in the competition is to always take it all in and get as much out of the competition as you can. I tell them to push themselves out of their comfort zone, always remember this experience and carry the confidence you will gain into the rest of your business life.”

Apprentices, employers and those young people aspiring to be a part of the construction industry are encouraged to join the Facebook page at

The Apprentice of the Year competition is made possible thanks to principal sponsor Carters, the Registered Master Builders Federation, the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), and supporting sponsor the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).