Attention to detail pays off for Hamilton apprentice Morgan Wills

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Morgan Wills, 23, from Hamilton, has won the Registered Master Builders 2019 Apprentice of the Year, in association with CARTERS national competition.

In a face-off against eight of New Zealand’s top carpentry apprentices, Morgan Wills has taken out this year’s Registered Master Builders 2019 Apprentice of the Year, in association with CARTERS national competition.

Winning the title of New Zealand’s 2019 Apprentice of the Year, Morgan Wills, 23, is from Hamilton, and is currently employed by Stewart Hanna Ltd, after completing his training with BCITO.

The three judges and building experts said Morgan led from the front on both days.

“During the interview Morgan provided excellent commentary and detail, showing a thorough understanding of his project overall,” they said.

“During the practical, he demonstrated a high level of attention to detail. With a clean and tidy site throughout, Morgan also received full marks for the safety component of the competition.”

The two-day competition involved a 45-minute interview with the judging panel, and a practical challenge held at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds.

Registered Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly said it was great to see the apprentices demonstrate such a high level of skill so early in their careers.

“For 15 years, the competition has been showcasing and rewarding the best of our industry’s apprentices.

“Each apprentice has demonstrated an extraordinary level of craftsmanship, knowledge and hard work throughout the competition.

“We hope these future industry leaders act as an inspiration to those looking to join the industry.”

In a first for the competition, each finalist was tasked with building a playground pirate ship as part of the strenuous six-hour practical challenge.

These 10 pirate ships will now be donated to low socio-economic Early Childhood Education Centres (ECE) in Auckland, through New Zealand-owned charity, BestStart.

Children from these local ECEs also gathered to support their nominated apprentice before the delivery of each pirate ship to their assigned playgrounds.

BestStart professional services manager Nicole Butler expressed her gratitude.

“We are delighted to receive these outstanding pirate ship playgrounds made by our country’s top apprentices, and we can’t wait to see the children’s surprised reactions when they are delivered.”

Runner-up went to Jason Helsby, 22, from Auckland, with Jay Pope, 29, from Nelson, being awarded third place.

All finalists, along with their employers, family and friends, celebrated their success at a gala awards dinner, hosted by Paralympian Liam Malone.

Entry age raised

In response to the shift in the number of New Zealanders changing careers and joining the trades later in life, this year’s entry age was raised from 27 to 30.

This welcomed participation across a broader age range, with four of the nine finalists between the new 27-30 age range.

The competition is also an opportunity to acknowledge the employers who invest in apprentices to meet the growing demand.

“On-the-job training gives apprentices the best chance to kick-start their careers, and it’s great to see many companies entering their apprentices into the competition,” Mr Kelly says.

“With the industry currently facing a skills shortage, the value of an apprenticeship has never been higher, and we appreciate the employers who continue to invest in young talent.”

Supporting the competition since its establishment is principal sponsor CARTERS.

Chief executive Mike Guy says it’s been fantastic to be involved in supporting the development of thousands of young talented apprentices over the years, and then seeing them go on to have successful careers in the building industry.

“Our partnership with Apprentice of the Year reflects our commitment to supporting the growth of New Zealand apprentices, and ensuring we provide them with the tools, mentoring and training they need to succeed.

“Attracting young talent to the industry is essential to the success of New Zealand’s booming construction sector,” Mr Guy says.

“We congratulate Morgan and all the finalists for their commitment to the industry, and we look forward to seeing them thrive in the industry.”

The Master Builders Apprentice of the Year competition is made possible thanks to principal sponsor CARTERS, event partner the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), and supporting sponsor Building Performance, as part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).