A former Northland resident is in the running to become the first female winner of the electrical industry's toughest contest for trainees.
Apprentice electrician Harmony Court, 24, from Whangarei, narrowly missed taking out a top spot in the gruelling four-day Master Electricians Challenge final last year.
Now she has again been named among the 10 finalists (the only female) who will battle it out in this year's final in Auckland from August 22.
Read more: Whangarei's David McEwen wins award in annual flooring industry competition
Northland's Fonterra Kauri site wins in-house health and safety award
Haruru business aims to revive traditional fermented foods
The former Pompallier Catholic College student, who is now based in West Auckland doing her apprenticeship with training provider etco and working with host employer Leck Electrical, is expected to qualify as an electrician early next year.
"I'm doing a lot of preparation and certainly hoping to be 'the one' this year.
"I applied for an electrical apprenticeship after hearing about it on the radio and I absolutely love it. I'm doing something different every day, meeting new people and constantly learning new skills. One day I hope to have my own electrical business."
The finalists, five in the domestic/commercial and five in the industrial division, scored the highest number of points out of 150 entrants in regional competitions nationwide.
The challenge is now in its 16th year and Master Electricians operations manager Bernie McLaughlin said entries to this year's regional competitions had skyrocketed, with employers and trainers using preparation for the contest as part of their training programmes.
"That made it tougher than ever to get through to the final 10," Mr McLaughlin said.
"For the challenge final, the apprentices will face five rounds of two-hour long modules, completed over three days of competition, interspersed with off-site challenging activities, team bonding, and generally an amazing and life changing experience for all involved."
Current champions Chabb Chia (domestic/commercial) and Logan Sanders (industrial) have gone on to enjoy international opportunities, with the titles opening doors for them to represent New Zealand at WorldSkills Competition events in China and Abu Dhabi.
Master Electricians chief executive Neville Simpson said apprentices were in high demand across all trades in New Zealand and the contest aimed to promote the benefits of electrical apprenticeships.
"The challenge is about celebrating the work of our apprentices and recognising excellence, quality and innovation in our trade. It's a great way for apprentices to kick off their careers - they get to build their confidence, capability and leadership skills and meet others in the industry," Mr Simpson said.
The challenge is made possible through the support of Skills, NHP, Rockwell Automation, Marley, Vynco, Legrand and J A Russell Ltd.
Sam Stevenson, from Warkworth, was also one of the 10 national finalists in the Master Electricians Challenge.