Qualifications Help Shape Success

As a hands on person with little interest in sitting in front of a computer all day, pursuing a career in the trades was an easy choice for 22-year-old Industrial Textile Fabrication Technician Travis Howden.

Currently working as Workshop Foreman for Peter May Ltd in Ashburton, Travis started at the company six years ago, working part-time after school. “I did a paper run when I was younger and needed something more to entertain me and keep me out of mischief,” Travis laughs. “I lived close by so I just walked in one day and handed them my CV.” That initiative paid off, and the next thing he knew, Travis had received a call from Peter May letting him know that he’d got the job.

It began with odd jobs around the workshop after school and in the holidays – sweeping floors, stripping motorcycle seats, and occasionally assisting on larger jobs like making tents. After two years of part-time work, Travis finished school and took up a full-time position with the company. His responsibilities increased to drawing patterns, cutting them out, and working on larger projects. He then decided to become qualified by completing a National Certificate in Canvas Fabrication (Level 3) through MITO. “I wanted to have my skills formally recognised,” Travis says.

In the same year, Travis was named the Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand (OFPANZ) Apprentice of the Year. “Winning the award was really great for my career,” says Travis. “It’s nice to have that recognition from the industry that you are good at what you do.”

Always focused on his next challenge, Travis then decided to work towards his National Certificate in Business Skills (First Line Management), which he completed thanks to a 2016 MITO Business Skills Scholarship. The nine month programme covered planning and problem solving in the workplace, as well as team management and development. The qualification proved to be the perfect next step for Travis, who is now training his own apprentice – something he notes as his greatest achievement since becoming qualified. “With First Line Management you learn a lot about the way people like to learn, so I feel as though the qualification is really helping with the way that I teach.”

Travis believes that his experience as an apprentice also benefits the way he teaches. “Having been in his shoes gives me a really great insight,” says Travis. “It’s handy to learn what you should be doing from those who have been there and done that!” It seems that Travis’ hardworking attitude is rubbing off on his new apprentice too. “He started this year and is progressing really well,” says Travis. “He’s smashing it!”

Peter May Ltd Director Toni May is constantly impressed with how much Travis has achieved in the industry at such a young age, and credits his strong work ethic for his ongoing successes. “We’ve given him quite a lot of responsibility and he’s taken that on board and met those challenges. We felt that he could achieve the desired results and we wanted to give him the opportunity to increase his skillset.” Toni also believes that Travis’ qualifications have helped shape him into the employee that he is. “The qualifications he has achieved through MITO have definitely helped. They are really worthwhile and we would highly recommend for other workplaces to enrol their staff.”

So what’s next for this 22-year-old with two national qualifications and an OFPANZ award under his belt? “At some point down the track I would like to own my own business,” says Travis.

Judging by the speed he’s achieving his goals, it looks like that dream might not be far off!

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