As an apprentice automotive technician at Giltrap Audi in Auckland, 21-year-old Casey Mead says working on flash cars, often worth over a hundred thousand dollars, is incredible.

“I love the diversity of the automotive industry,” says Casey, “and being able to work with my hands was a huge contributing factor as to why I was attracted to this industry in the first instance. Growing up, I liked to pull things apart to see if I could put them back together even better. Dad has a 1987 944 Porsche which he and I have been restoring together and when I got my first car, he showed me how to take it all apart.”

When Casey left school she did what a lot of young people do and enrolled in university. “That’s just what I thought I was supposed to do. I think there is a perception, rightly or wrongly, that once you leave school, you go to university. I was never made aware that there are other career options in the trades.”

However, once Casey had completed her first semester, she knew something wasn’t right. “I quickly decided it was a hundred percent what I didn’t want to do and was then left wondering what my options were. I realised that the enjoyment I get from working with cars was something I wanted to explore further and see if I could make a career out of it. So, I enrolled in an automotive pre-trade course, absolutely loved it and the rest is history!”

Casey’s next step wasn’t just to find a job in the automotive industry. She also saw the value of getting qualified through an apprenticeship and is currently completing MITO’s National Certificate in Motor Industry (Automotive Electrical and Mechanical Engineering) with strand in Light Vehicle.

“It’s an internationally recognised qualification and on-the-job training makes perfect sense. You’re getting paid to study - you don’t have a massive student loan which is an amazing feeling! A lot of my friends have gone to university and are now struggling to find jobs because they’ve spent three or four years studying but haven’t had any working experience.”

Casey would love to see more young people in the industry and encourages those leaving school to explore all their options. “If the trades interest you, then consider gaining some work experience to find out if it’s something you like and want to pursue further. That work experience may turn into a job or even a career when you finish school. Being a female in a male-dominated industry isn’t an issue either. I went into it with no preconceived ideas on how it was going to be and everyone has been really welcoming.”

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