Making a career in motoring

We’re getting the word out about the hugely varied career opportunities in the automotive sector. It’s all part of the work being done by MTA to attract new blood to the industry.

To help explain just what those opportunities are we’ve recruited several people from within the sector to talk about their jobs and where their career is going and we’ve put those stories online.

Along with Gareth Heywood, Mark Patterson and Kieran Wingfield from South Canterbury Toyota we also had help from five others.

Rebecca Dixon-Paver (above) is a panel beater apprentice at Blair Wright Group in Wellington. The 23 year old moved to Wellington from South Africa when she was a child and after leaving school started working for a jewellery company at the airport.

“My best friend was studying to be a mechanic and when I talked to him about how bored I was he suggested I come to Weltec with him.”

They were both into cars but she had never thought about a career in the sector. She did a nine month panel beating course at WELTEC. “When I started there were 20 guys on the course and I was the only woman. By the end of the course there were only ten left and only half passed. Of those only three of us ended up with a panel beating apprenticeship.” She’s expects to finish her apprenticeship at the end of the year.

“What I love about the job is the end, when the car is all smooth and polished and pretty and drives away with a happy customer.” She’s not so happy when a few of them return after another prang, especially if its damaged something she’s just fixed.

When she’s fully qualified Rebecca says she plans to do a paint apprenticeship so she can work on dragsters, hot rods and special cars using airbrush painting skills.

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Holly Milne (above) is a paint specialist with Total Body Shop Supplies in Petone. The 30 year started her working life in temporary office roles before she and a mechanic friend came up with the idea of going into business together in the future.

“This was the time of TV shows like Pimp My Ride and I thought paint and custom design would be a good match in a business with my friend.” She went to polytech to do her paint and panel apprenticeship and fell in love with the job.

“I get lost in sanding bumpers and getting that final glossy gleam is really satisfying.”

These days she’s managing the sales of a busy paint supply company and is moving into handling the negotiations with international suppliers, and researching new products. “One day I’d like to be managing a paint supply business.”

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Another apprentice panel beater, Victor Ulugia (above) also works for Blair Wright Group and features on the videos.
The 26 year old moved to New Zealand from Samoa in 2007. He loves cars and saw a sign advertising the panel beater course at WELTEC.

“While I was doing the course they talked to us about getting work experience and I asked Blair Wright for a job and was taken on as a car groomer. Then, later they said they would take me on as an apprentice when I finished the course.” Victor is in the first year of his apprenticeship and says his long term goal is to get qualified and maybe get into management.

He particularly enjoys welding but in general, gets satisfaction about fixing things. For him, a great day would be a big job, he would like the challenge.

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Alex Bilton and Casey Morris (above) are the owners of Masterton Motorworks, in Wairarapa.
Alex is a qualified auto electrician and is now doing his auto technician apprenticeship. His partner Casey has a qualification and experience in parts and accessories sales.

They’re both in their late 20s and have two small children together. Alex put ten years into his career before they made the decision to open their own workshop. “We wanted to own our own business and we want to make sure we are ready for the future. We offer both auto electrical and mechanical repairs and the staff are all cross training so they are fully qualified in both trades,” said Casey.

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Alex and Casey’s apprentice Ben Nikolaison (above) is in his early 20s and also has a role in the videos. He’s a few months into his auto technician apprenticeship. “I have always liked cars and tinkering with them, and taught myself how to fix things.”

He’s enjoying the job and has discovered the importance of keeping on top of his written course work. “The best thing at the moment is getting to work on some really cool cars occasionally, like the Bentley that came in the other day.”

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