Switchboard task tests sparky skills

By John Maslin

The sparks weren't flying but the atmosphere was certainly electric when 12 apprentice electricians took part in the Electrical Contractors' Association regional challenge in Wanganui this week.

The third and fourth year apprentices had to construct a switchboard that would service either a domestic/commercial property or an industrial property, and they had from 8am to 5pm to do it.

Local contractor Ricky Lee was co-ordinating the Wanganui-Manawatu final with a panel of qualified electricians taking care of the judging.

Mr Lee said with 12 contestants it made this regional final the biggest outside of Auckland and there are 11 regional finals altogether.

"We usually have four or five competitors but our numbers have been bolstered with a group of NZ Defence Force apprentices taking part," he said. "But that's not to say we'll have someone through to the nationals as a matter or course. It all comes down to their score and they'll have to score higher than the other regional contestants to make it.

"There's no reason why this district can't end up with two in the final."

From these regional events 12 finalists will go to the nationals in Tauranga. There will be six in the domestic-commercial final and six in the industrial section final.

Mr Lee said the competition tried to simulate as much as possible a normal working day for a qualified electrician.

"We'd expect a qualified electrician to complete the job in an eight-hour day but for these boys it's hard work, Some of them won't get it finished in time, we know that."

He expected the fourth year boys, all in their final year, to show out.

Judges were assessing the work into the night on Wednesday with final results announced on the weekend.

There will be a winner named in each section and they will each receive $200.

The national winner gets an Outward Bound scholarship along with other prizes.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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