Award Winner’s Gateway to the Automotive Industry

For senior secondary school students still unsure of where to take their careers, Gateway programmes can provide an invaluable introduction to an industry they’re interested in. With a placement at an automotive workshop, MITO’s StartUp® programme offers Year 11 to 13 students the chance to earn on-the-job micro-credentials approved by NZQA and credits towards NCEA Levels 2 and 3.

With an exposure to different trades through family, Ethan decided to pursue a career in the automotive industry. “I worked on old army trucks with my uncle. He collects them. We’d do a bunch of random jobs that I wouldn’t have understood at the time - things like changing fanbelts and radiators, stuff like that.”

“I heard of the Gateway course at my school because my brother had done something similar a few years before but for building.”

For Ethan, completing StartUp® gave him the push he needed to decide to pursue a career in the automotive industry. “I’d definitely recommend StartUp®. It gave me more information about the automotive industry and I met other people who had previously done it so I got information from them too.”

Through StartUp®, students get experience in a wide range of workshop procedures such as servicing, tyre replacement and safe work practices. They must also complete a range of eLearning unit standards, demonstrating knowledge of certain jobs and vehicle components.

“I liked how it was easy to find information and apply that to the questions,” Ethan says of the eLearning component of the programme.

When it came to the practical assessments, Ethan’s work placement had him do a host of different workshop tasks.

“I got to do a lot of tasks with a bunch of different people, learning all the different areas of the workshop. For a while I was in the tyre area. I’d be changing and repairing tyres with the tyre technician. A lot of bringing cars in, stripping the wheels off. Out of everything, I like the servicing side of things. That comes quite easy to me.”

The workshop had no shortage of exciting jobs for Ethan to get involved in. “One day, we got to remove some radiators on these sports cars that came in – a couple of Porsche’s and a Toyota Supra. That was pretty cool!”

Ethan made such a big impression that his Gateway teacher nominated him for the Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award, which he was awarded in October 2023. “I was initially surprised, but it was a pretty good feeling to win the award,” he says.

Launched in 2019, the award aims to raise the status of vocational education as a viable option for school-leavers. The award winner also receives a monetary prize.

With school now completed, Ethan’s next goal is to get stuck into the industry. “I want to try and become qualified and hopefully know where to go from there!”

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