While Abby Brice wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do when she left school, she was certain about one thing – she wanted to learn a trade. “I always knew that university wasn’t for me,” she says. “I didn’t want to waste time and money studying something that everyone else was doing.”

“I have friends who are mechanics, so I’d been around people working on vehicles before, and I found that type of thing really interesting.” Abby also liked the idea of working with her hands as a career. “In my spare time I play sports, hunt, and fish, so it made sense for me to take on a hands-on job. I’m obviously not very good at sitting still!” she laughs.

Abby Brice

Abby Brice (right) and supervisor Matthew "Johnny" Currie

It’s been just under two years since she secured her job at Bensons, and Abby is now working as an apprentice automotive electrician and completing a New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Electrical Engineering (Level 4), through MITO. “I’m really enjoying my training so far,” says Abby. “The eLearning aspect makes things so much easier - I find it super easy to complete my work online and it’s really motivating for me to be able to track my progress.”Despite not having any previous automotive experience, Abby knew that she wanted to learn more about cars, so took it upon herself to approach Gisborne’s Bensons Auto Clinic and ask if they were hiring. Her initiative paid off, and she was soon working one day a week in the workshop to get a taste of the industry. “The best thing I did was just biting the bullet, going in, and having a conversation about my interest in the automotive industry,” says Abby.

“I decided to get qualified because I knew that this would be a great trade to have under my belt,” she says. “I can go anywhere in the world with it, and there will always be a need for qualified technicians.”

Abby’s supervisor Matthew “Johnny” Currie, is stoked with how far Abby has come in such a short amount of time. “When Abby first started with us, her car knowledge was virtually non-existent,” laughs Matthew. “There were other people that approached us for apprenticeships who had done pre-trade courses, but we chose Abby because we could see that she was smart, motivated, and that she really had the ability to learn,” he says.

“For us as a business, it’s important to bring in young people who are ready to learn. Having someone with no experience can actually be beneficial because they haven’t had a chance to pick up any bad habits, so you can train them exactly how you want to.”

Looking to the future, Abby is keen to get qualified, then focus her attention on learning more about electric vehicles. “I’m really interested in hybrids and electric vehicles so I’d love to be able to specialise in something like that,” she says.

“The great thing about this career is that cars are constantly changing as technology evolves, and that’s what makes this industry so exciting.”

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