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Stacey Walker

Have you ever heard of earning while you learn? This is the role of an apprentice!

An apprentice is a worker who learns through carrying out tasks and working alongside professionals. They earn money while doing it – bonus! This is definitely a practical option for the future, especially if you are someone who learns through doing.

I spoke to Fulton Hogan’s Stacey Walker about her experiences being an apprentice in the civil construction industry. It all started when Stacey saw an ad on SEEK, thought it looked interesting and jumped head-first into the opportunity.

Stacey has developed important skills and processes, such as quick problem solving, field testing and data entry. She has learnt alongside professionals, who she says are very supportive and always willing to answer any questions she asks.

“Everything I know about this industry was learnt on the job,” she said.

A typical day at work for Stacey starts off with what's known as a 'tailgate' (meeting) that outlines the plans for the day, any expected hazards and other issues the team need to be informed about.

“After the meeting we get to work, by either heading out to a site and doing some field testing, or staying in the lab to do testing, or data entry.”

The young apprentice says the best part of her job is the variety of the work, from working inside one day to working out on site the next and seeing projects come to life. Of course, there's also the fact that she's earning while she does it.

“Earning money while you learn a job really helps to take some of the stress away and lets you enjoy yourself in your weekends. It’s also a really nice feeling, knowing that I don’t have a huge student loan hanging over my head.”

Stacey chose the life of a tradie rather than a university student because she was unsure of the career path she wanted to take. She decided to test her options and eventually attend university if necessary.

Since working for Fulton Hogan, Stacey has won the title of CCNZ Waikato Trainee of the Year and she is currently a finalist for the CCNZ and Trainee Development Award. She now plans to work towards a management and technical role, saying: “I will continue to learn and take as many opportunities as possible to help grow my skills and get me ready for whatever may lay ahead.”

Stacey’s advice to teenagers thinking about going into a trade is to go for it. “You never know what you might enjoy. Always keep an open mind and keep on learning. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, most people are always willing to help. There are no wasted opportunities as you will always learn something, so take as many as you can.”

This article was written by a Maverick from TEARAWAY, The Voice of New Zealand Youth!