September 9th, 2013

Apprenticeship or Degree - how about both?

Seven years ago Ben Carter finished school and now he is about to complete his 3rd engineering qualification. Ben always knew that engineering was for him. Who could resist metal work and welding when your dad’s workshop was always full of tools and creative opportunities?

Ben always intended to go to university - he took physics, calculus, engineering and chemistry at school. But after doing some research and talking to people in the industry he was advised many times to do an apprenticeship first so Ben changed tack and investigated engineering apprenticeships.

The advantages were obvious, he would still have the practical component, learning on-the-job from experienced people and with NZQA approved course work and he would gain critical knowledge, techniques and skills. He would be paid to learn and the variety of tasks and projects would be a positive.

Ben signed up for an apprenticeship through ATNZ and he was placed at Stevenson Engineering Ltd. He gained his National Certificate in Engineering - Heavy Fabrication in 2010. He then furthered his skills completing the Advanced Trade Diploma and enrolling at AUT to do his Bachelor of Engineering Technology. He graduates in December 2013. 

Ben has been supported right through his studies by Stevenson Engineering Ltd. Ben’s advice is to consider an apprenticeship before a degree. He says that the advantages of learning in a practical environment and how to apply that knowledge has given him a huge advantage over his classmates at university. “I think I have a better understanding than the others in my class because I know the practical application of the theory, because I have actually done it as a tradesman”.

In the future Ben would like to move into a designing role, preferably within mining, transport or heaving machinery and also perhaps project and management roles. “Doing an apprenticeship gives you experience and you get paid.  Your apprenticeship might lead you to a new career.”

For now, Ben is finishing his degree and getting ready for another season of competitive wakeboarding – with continued podium placing’s firmly in sight, and a bit more tinkering in his dad’s workshop too.