It was James’s dad who originally sparked his interest. Being an electrician himself, James’s dad had brought him up to be hands-on and so it was always likely that he’d follow in his father’s footsteps. James left school halfway through his final year after deciding to become an electrician, and with help from the school careers advisor, he signed up to a training programme provided by The Electrical Training Company (ETCO). After completing an electrical training camp in Auckland, James returned to Wellington to await an apprenticeship placement with an electrical company.
“ETCO basically takes you through a two-week bootcamp and goes through all the basics, from wiring and sockets through to theory work and safety training. It sets you up with an edge when they finally place you with a company, and the only requirement that’s needed to enter is NCEA Level 2 science, maths and English.”
Along with the variety, James also enjoys the thrill of the job.
“[It is] obviously quite dangerous, as you can get a 240 volt electrical shock from most household sockets, and you’re dealing with live electricity and stuff so there’s a little bit of an adrenaline rush there, which is pretty exciting.
At the same time these days there is a big focus on safety, that’s the main thing, you’d rather get a job done slower and safer than getting a job done faster and putting yourself at risk. So a lot of what I learnt and am still learning is around keeping myself and others safe, but safety mostly comes down to common sense.”
James has been an apprentice electrician for nearly six months now, and with three years left on his apprenticeship he feels that he definitely made the right decision to leave school and pursue the career that he did. Few jobs will pay you to study, but the electrical apprenticeship scheme does just that. As well as gaining first-hand experience on the job, James also attends night classes once a week.
“Being paid to study and learn is definitely a big bonus, but an apprenticeship is a lot different from studying at uni or at school,” says James. “Coming straight out of school and working 7.30am to 5pm, five days a week, took a bit of getting used to, and with night classes on Wednesday it was a bit of a longer day – but despite the long hours the last thing on my mind is being bored.”
James believes that being paired with an experienced electrician and learning on the job suits him much more than being in a classroom environment. Not afraid to get his hands dirty, James loves the tradesman’s lifestyle, and thinks that as long as you’re keen to try something new, relatively fit and have some good interpersonal skills, then being an electrician could be a good career choice.
James has his sights set on travelling to the UK and elsewhere once he has finished his apprenticeship.
“One of the good things about being an electrician is that you can do it anywhere, and there’s always a demand for electricians, especially as appliances become more complicated. And so being able to travel with my trade is something I look forward to, for sure.”