Like a lot of young people, Fraser Pattie wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted to do when he left school. He’d always assumed he would go to university, but as he approached his final year, he started leaning more and more towards a career in the trades and services. His friend who worked as an apprentice refinisher at Babbage & McCullough, Timaru, suggested he come along one day to check it out and see if it was something he might be interested in.

“I didn’t really know much about cars,” said Fraser, “but I liked the sound of what my friend did, so thought I should go along and experience it for myself.” One visit was all it took and Fraser was hooked, enrolling in MITO’s StartUp® programme for his final year at school. StartUp, an automotive training programme for secondary school students, enabled Fraser to spend one day a week working in the paint shop at Babbage & McCullough, gaining practical skills and a valuable introduction to the working environment.

Towards the end of the year, Babbage & McCullough owner, Jimmy Arps, told Fraser that there was a position coming up as a collision repair technician and whether that might appeal to him. “For the next few weeks I worked in the panel shop instead of the paint shop,” says Fraser, “and actually ended up enjoying the work even more! So everything worked out perfectly and I was able to start an apprenticeship straight after leaving school.”

“I saw the potential in Fraser right from the beginning,” says Jimmy. “He was always looking for ways to help out around the workshop, which showed us his drive and initiative. That’s why the StartUp programme is so valuable. It lets you get a feel for the person in terms of their work ethic, demeanour and whether their personality is a good fit with your team. We’ve had three StartUp students previously who have all gone on to apprenticeships with us. That in itself shows you that the programme really works. It’s a great pipeline for new blood into the industry.”

The StartUp programme is so valuable. It lets you get a feel for the person in terms of their work ethic, demeanour and whether their personality is a good fit with your team.

Now enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Collision Repair (Non-Structural Repair) (Level 3 and 4) through MITO, 18-year-old Fraser is looking forward to learning more skills, getting stuck in to his apprenticeship and realising his full potential in the industry. It’s that attitude that recently saw Fraser awarded a 2018 MITO Kick Start scholarship which contributes $1,000 towards the fees for any MITO apprenticeship or traineeship programme at Level 4 or above.

“I was stoked to receive a MITO scholarship,” says Fraser, “and it will make my apprenticeship that much easier having that extra support.” Plus, as Fraser is eligible for two years of free fees for industry training through the government, the scholarship is transferred to the third year of his training programme, meaning the annual training fees for Fraser’s entire apprenticeship will be funded.

“I’m so glad I found something I enjoy doing as a career,” says Fraser. “I really love working with my hands, pulling things apart and seeing how they go together and I’m learning more and more each day. The team at Babbage & McCullough are really friendly and everyone is willing to help out and answer questions - which just makes my job that much more enjoyable.”

For other young people interested in getting into the industry, Fraser offers some simple advice. “StartUp gave me a great idea of what to expect in an apprenticeship, so talk with your careers advisor to sign-up to StartUp!”

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