Learning on the job

We meet Madyzin Rogers and Jason Andrews, two young heavy fabrication apprentices at Rotorua trailer builder Mills-Tui.

As heavy fabrication apprentices, Madyzin and Jason both learn to work with metal in the construction of trailers. This includes measuring, cutting and folding various types of sheets of steel. They also weld them to form the various components that are assembled to make a trailer.

The apprenticeships consist of about 50% on-the-job work, and 50% bookwork. So you have to be dedicated and motivated to get through it all.

However, if you do, there’s a wide variety of jobs you could choose from – the whole world is hungry for tradesmen! Trailer building is quite a niche specialisation, so you should always be able to find a job. You could even land up running your own company!

Jason operates the hydraulic folding press. The easiest way to fold something as strong as steel!

How long are your apprenticeships and which training organisations are you doing it through?

M: We both do our apprenticeships through Competenz.

J: They should take three to four years to complete.

What’s the most fun part of your job?

M: Standing back and looking at the finished product, knowing I helped build it.

J: Pressing the material with the hydraulic press.

What’s the toughest part of your job?

M: Sitting down at the end of a long day to do the bookwork.

J: Yeah, I agree!

Madyzin grinds some welds which makes cool sparks!

Did you have to do any specific subjects at school for your apprenticeship?

M: I left school at 16 to join Mills-Tui. I wanted to work.

J: No, but I’d say the subjects I did at school have helped – I did maths, carpentry, engineering, science, that sort of stuff, which is all pretty relevant. Otherwise you might need the right tutors to teach you.

If you didn’t enter engineering, what would you have liked to do?

M: I always wanted to be a truck driver!

J: I tried building, bricklaying and sawmilling, but it was always engineering for me!


It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle!

One year into the job, we get to know Michael Baylis over at Kennedy Trailers who tells us all about being an apprentice boilermaker.

Michael’s job as a boilermaker is to weld steel together to make trailers. He works off a drawing that shows him which pieces need to go together. It’s kind of like a big jigsaw puzzle.

Welding is a very fine art, it takes lots of practice, patience and precision to get your welds nice and straight and strong. If you leave the welder in one spot for too long, it burns a hole straight through – but if you don’t leave it long enough, the trailer will not be strong enough! So it’s safe to say that the welder has a lot of responsibility and needs to be concentrating at all times.

When a welder gets the perfect weld, it is a great achievement.

Little Trucker: How long have you been on the job?

Michael: I started my apprenticeship 2.5 years ago and have been at Kennedy Trailers for just over a year.

Little Trucker: What are some of your main responsibilities?

Michael: One of my main responsibilities is fabricating cabguards.

Little Trucker: What kind of training did you do for your job?

Michael: I’ve been attending trade school and they provide my training as well as learning on the job.

Little Trucker: What is your favourite thing about your job?

Michael: I most enjoy fabricating and getting to learn new skills and put them to use.

Little Trucker: And what is your favourite type of truck?

Michael: I find heavy-haulage trucks pretty interesting!

Little Trucker: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

Michael: Outside of work I spend my time fishing, 4WD, or camping. I also like country music.