Bright spark’s practical choice pays off
Georgia Bartlam had a lot of options when she left school with NCEA Level 3, but she knew she didn’t want to head off to university or rack up a big student debt.
She’d always enjoyed pulling things apart and fixing them and decided an apprenticeship would be the best way to kick-start the practical career she was after.
“I thought it was an opportunity to study and earn money at the same time,” she says.
To boost her apprenticeship chances, she signed up for the one-year New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory (Level 3) course at Toi Ohomai. She was one of six females in the class and says the male-dominated course gave her the ‘brothers’ she’d never had.
Georgia’s ability and attitude soon prompted her tutor to recommend her to the Bay of Plenty’s largest locally owned electrical company, Guild and Spence Electrical. In the second half of her course, she spent one day a week doing unpaid work experience at the company and, when she graduated, she was promptly signed up as one of the company’s new apprentices.
Georgia’s now more than halfway through her apprenticeship and has continued to work through a series of electrical modules with Toi Ohomai as part of her training. She’s maintained and updated electrical components at some of Tauranga’s most well-known commercial buildings and will soon start servicing farm pumps and industrial infrastructure.
“Every day is different. It’s great having your own work van, which I drive home every night, and there is a whole family feeling at our company, with the banter and the laughs.
“There is a lot more to electrical work that I didn’t think about. You use maths a lot and it’s quite physical, crawling inside roofs. There’s also a lot of problem-solving.”
Georgia’s keen to progress further and intends to start studying part-time for a Diploma in Engineering (Electrical) (Level 6) as soon as she finishes her apprenticeship.
“I’ll start that straight away, while I’m still in study mode, but I’ll keep on working full-time so I won’t have to take a pay cut,” she says.