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National winners announced – 2023 Master Builders Apprentice of the Year

In the final leg of the competition, Jack Nevines from Auckland has been awarded the 2023 Registered Master Builders Apprentice of the Year award, in partnership with CARTERS.

Eight carpentry apprentices from across Aotearoa New Zealand made their way to Auckland to compete in the final stages of the national competition. Across a two-day event, starting at CONZTRUCT Auckland North, the apprentices were challenged with a six-hour practical skills test and a 45-minute interview with the national judging panel. For the practical component, the apprentices crafted a work bench which will be donated to early learning centres through Evolve Education Group. The project was highly technical, leaving no room for error.

Jack Nevines was announced as the well-deserved winner at the National Awards Gala, he is employed by Faulkner Construction and completed his training through BCITO, a business division of Te Pūkenga.

Judges were most impressed by Jack’s natural ability to lead, and the faultless management of his project, which he spoke to during his interview.

“Jack’s extensive knowledge of the building code, methodology, and building products stood out and showed his great interest and understanding of the industry. In the final stages of the competition, his skills all came together to demonstrate his top-class craftsmanship,” said the judging panel.

In the 20 years since the first Apprentice of the Year competition, the industry has more than doubled in size. Now the fifth biggest sector in New Zealand, Stats NZ reports there has been a 135% increase in jobs in the construction industry in the last two decades, this growth has also coincided with increased diversity.

Registered Master Builders National President, Johnny Calley says the perception towards building and construction as a career has positively changed, with BCITO, Te Pūkenga reporting that over 6% of the sector is now women, alongside wider awareness of the benefits of a career in the trades.

This is reflected in this year’s competition, with Jess Nielsen taking out 3rd place, making her the first ever women to place in the national competition, since its establishment in 2003.

“Not only are we seeing an increase of more female building apprentices, but many people now are entering the trade as a second or third career choice. A better understanding of the sector has led to the transition away from a traditional ‘blue-collar’ workforce to a widely respected industry that is attractive to a diverse range of people,” says Calley.

Calley reflects on how the sector has evolved in the last two decades, highlighting the impact that changes in regulations and the role of specialised sub-contractors has had on how we now build.

“When I started my career builders would do everything from laying concrete to installing insulation and roofing iron. In today’s environment those types of processes are carried out by specialised sub-contractors which has created efficiencies.

“Another transformation is how the industry is regulated, when I started anyone could pick up a hammer and call themselves a builder, but with the introduction of the Licensed Building Practitioners scheme you now need to meet the certification standards to sign off restricted building works. This has lifted the quality of our builds and the workforce.”

Over the last two decades, the competition, has celebrated and connected apprentices and their employers.

“Recognising excellence is extremely important. From my experience those apprentices that enter mentoring programmes and competitions like Registered Master Builders CARTERS Apprentice of the Year, go on to become industry leaders. It is a natural progression of testing their ability whilst learning key skill sets that set them apart.

“I want to congratulate all of those who have had the courage to enter the competition in the last 20 years, and of course, this year’s winners,” finishes Calley.

Runner-up went to Issac Posthuma from the Northern region, with Jess Nielsen from the Waikato taking out third place.

“Both of these apprentices were very strong contenders. Issac is an excellent craftsman, and at the young age of 20, he has a bright and fulfilling career in construction ahead of him.

“Jess is the first ever female apprentice to place in the national competition, she is a highly impressive young person with excellent building knowledge, Jess also showcased a great level of skill in the national practical competition where she scored very highly,” said competition judges.

The gala awards for the national competition signalled the end of the competition, and the finalists, employers, family, and friends came together to celebrate their success and hard work throughout the competition.

Committed to standing behind all apprentices as they start their careers, CARTERS Chief Executive, Mike Guy is impressed with the talent the competition brings together year-on-year.

“CARTERS are proud to partner with the Apprentice of the Year competition. It’s great to be able to watch these talented apprentices giving it their all in the competition and growing from the experience.

“We’re committed to supporting apprentices from across the country as they build their careers in the construction industry. Being involved in the competition is a great way to celebrate emerging talent and our future industry leaders,” said Mike Guy.

Before qualifying for the national competition, each of the top eight competed against other apprentices in their region. This involved a written project submission, a two-hour regional practical challenge, an interview, and site visit.


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