“I’ve always worked better with my hands than I do with a book and a pen,” admits 18-year-old Ryan Williams. “I grew up working on cars with my Dad and loved it, so it was inevitable that I was going to end up in the automotive industry.”

After completing MITO’s StartUp® programme in high school, Ryan is now a full-time light automotive apprentice at John Andrew Ford, and is working towards a New Zealand Certificate in Light Automotive Engineering through MITO.

StartUp prepared me really well. The programme is structured in almost exactly the way same as my current training programme, so I found it really easy to transition into a full-time apprenticeship.

Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams completed MITO's StartUp® programme

It was Ryan’s high school Gateway Co-ordinator at Michael Park School, Melanie Bray that initially suggested he enrol in StartUp®. Knowing he wanted a career in the automotive industry, Ryan jumped at the chance to get on-the-job experience.

StartUp® offers Year 11 to 13 students the opportunity to gain experience in an automotive workshop while earning NCEA credits. Students complete theory courses via eLearning, then spend one day a week in a workshop to complete their practical assessments.

Melanie knew that StartUp® would be the perfect programme for Ryan. “He could talk cars for hours,” she laughs, “and he was definitely work-ready.”

Now working full-time at John Andrew Ford & Mazda, Ryan credits StartUp® with setting him up for work in the industry. “It prepared me really well,” he says. “The StartUp® programme is structured in almost exactly the way same as my current training programme, so I found it really easy to transition into a full-time apprenticeship.”

Mark Atkinson, Service Manager at John Andrew Ford, agrees that StartUp® was instrumental in preparing Ryan for a full-time job in the industry. “Ryan came to us after completing StartUp® through MITO and he is a truly fantastic apprentice,” says Mark. “StartUp® definitely gave him a good taster and showed him how far you can go in the industry.”

Five months into his apprenticeship and Ryan is loving what he does. “I love pulling things apart,” he laughs. “Then I look at how they work, fix them, and try to put them back together again – it’s a real problem solving job.” Listening to Ryan talk about what he does, his natural affinity for all things mechanical is clear. “He genuinely has a passion for cars,” says Mark, “and that passion is obvious in the way that he works.”

While Ryan is unsure where he sees himself in the future, Mark is sure that he has what it takes to carve out a successful career. “Ryan could definitely work his way up to a high-level role in the industry,” he says. “He’s got the skill set and the work ethic to get to there, there’s no doubt in my mind.”

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