Despite only learning about the industrial textile fabrication industry after finding himself in it, Laurence Van Zeyl-Hemara, Canvas Fabricator Apprentice at Peter May Ltd in Ashburton, loves the job he’s in. “I never actually knew that it existed until I came into an after-school job,” he says.

“I heard through my foreman Tom that they needed an after-school hand,” he adds. “I decided to come in and ask about the job and lucky enough, I got it!”

Toni May, Director at Peter May Ltd, thought that Laurence would be an excellent candidate for TrimUp®. “I immediately thought of Laurence because he already had an insight to our industry,” she says. “I thought it would be good to back up his practical experience with some formal recognition while he was still at school.”Laurence then enrolled in MITO’s secondary school programme for the industrial textile fabrication industry, titled TrimUp®. Although students aren’t required to have worked in the industry before enrolling, as TrimUp® is designed as an introduction to the trade, Laurence’s after-school job influenced his decision to take the steps required to make a career out of it.

TrimUp® offers secondary school students the chance to earn a micro-credential approved by NZQA and credits towards NCEA, working on products ranging from tents and vehicle upholstery to shade sails and inflatable boats. Students complete both eLearning and practical workplace learning.

“Once a week, while I was still enrolled in school, I’d come here for work experience,” Laurence explains about the programme. “I’m more of a physical learner - I prefer to be shown rather than told so learning on the job through TrimUp® was really good. It just slotted in perfectly and it gave me credits, so it was pretty sweet from my end.”

Although industrial textile fabrication has been around for centuries, Toni explains how many are unaware of its existence. “At school, not many students know about our trade, so TrimUp® broadens that awareness and helps give the industry credibility,” she explains. “It shows that it’s a viable and worthy trade equal to other industries that have similar industry training qualifications.”

After completing TrimUp®, Laurence was offered a full-time position at Peter May Ltd, started his New Zealand Certificate in Industrial Textile Fabrication (Level 3) through MITO and is well on his way to becoming fully qualified.

Laurence’s foreman Tom is a previous MITO graduate himself and sees a lot of potential in Laurence. “His skill level is high considering he’s only been working full-time for a short while,” Tom says. “He’s done a really good job and he’s learning really fast. His practical skills have really developed from when he first started.”

Laurence explains how important it is and what a difference it makes to enjoy the job you’re in. “I really enjoy my trade and the people I work with. I’m happy to wake up in the morning and come to work.”

Laurence recommends TrimUp® to anyone in school looking to get into a trade. “It’s a fun way to get NCEA credits at school and to try out a trade. You might just find out it’s the job for you.”

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