O’Brien building his way to the top

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Northern Regional winner Thomas O’Brien, 20, has also won this year’s Registered Master Builders CARTERS 2020 Apprentice of the Year competition.

Building his way to the top, Northern Regional winner Thomas O’Brien has won this year’s Registered Master Builders CARTERS 2020 Apprentice of the Year competition.

The nine regional winners from across the country came together for the final stage of the competition, involving a 45-minute interview with the judging panel, and a practical challenge at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland recently.

The six-hour practical component challenged the apprentices to each create a mud kitchen to donate to early learning centres through Evolve Education Group.

O’Brien, 20, is employed by Beacon Construction, and is completing his training through the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO).

Registered Master Builders chief executive David Kelly was impressed with the group’s talent, and their commitment to being the best in their field.

“It is promising to see the level of skill, knowledge and dedication in this year’s apprentices. Our industry will be in safe hands with these apprentices as our future leaders.

“I congratulate Thomas and look forward to watching what he goes on to achieve,” Kelly says.

The competition comes at a time when support of the trades and apprentices has never been more important.

Off the back of the Government’s Apprenticeship Boost scheme, since July there has been a record jump in the number of registered carpentry apprentices, up by 17% compared to last year.

“Demand for skilled labour is not going away, and the Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package is a fantastic incentive to ensure we have a strong future workforce. This will be vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery,” Kelly says.

The four judges, all leading building experts, said O’Brien impressed them throughout the competition.

“He demonstrated a broad range of skills, from managing a build and the relationship with clients, through to his work on the tools.

“His employer shows the trust he has in Thomas by giving him responsibility which has been rightfully earned.

“Thomas had with him today his Grandfather’s toolbox that was made for him when he was 11. He was brought up beside a craftsman, and this legacy shone through today in the practical challenge.

“Thomas is a true all-rounder and he should be very proud of himself. He will be an asset to our industry,” the judges said.

Runner-up went to Mathew Van Boheman, 23, from Bay of Plenty Central Plateau, with Mark Lovelock, 27, from Upper South Island, being awarded third place.

Evolve Education Group area manager Nicole Butler congratulated this year’s apprentices, and is looking forward to the arrival of the mud kitchens.

“Mud kitchens provide a wide range of learning opportunities, including creative, imaginary, sensory and explorative play. The children of the centres receiving these are very lucky and we are so grateful.”

The achievements of all nine apprentices were celebrated with the finalists and their employers, family and friends at a gala awards dinner, hosted by The Rock’s Rog Farrelly.

Committed to standing behind all apprentices as they start their careers, CARTERS chief executive Mike Guy is impressed with the talent the competition brings together year-on-year.

“We’re proud to be the long-standing Principal Partner of the Master Builders Apprentice of the Year competition, which we have sponsored for 16 years,” Guy says.

“CARTERS remains committed to supporting carpentry apprentices as they further their careers in the construction industry by taking part in the competition.

“Celebrating emerging talent in New Zealand’s trade industry is a great initiative to be involved with as we continue to look to the future of the building industry.”

The Master Builders Apprentice of the Year competition is made possible thanks to principal sponsor CARTERS, the BCITO, and supporting sponsor Licensed Building Practitioners, as part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

For more information, visit www.apprenticeoftheyear.co.nz.