A new campaign called Got a Trade? Got it Made! is making serious waves by getting young people to consider training on the job, including apprenticeships, as an excellent way to build a career.

From builders to hairdressers, chefs to auto mechanics, electricians to engineers, and hundreds of other vocations. It may well be the most important initiative to inspire young Kiwis for decades. Here we ask the Chair of Got a Trade? Got it Made! Rachel Hopkins, 10 big questions.

1. What's your background?

After getting my Law and Arts degrees at Canterbury University, I worked in marketing, economic development and education in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. These days I'm the General Manager of Marketing and Communications at Competenz and an Associate Director on the Board of AWF Madison Group.

2. Why did you come up with the idea?

Advertisement

We were responding to the needs of industry. The seven industry training organisations (ITOs) who have created the Got a Trade? Got it made! campaign represent thousands of New Zealand businesses in over 100 industry sectors. Those businesses tell us they need talented, motivated people to work in their industries. They hire for willingness to work and learn, and they will train you in the specialist skills and help you get a qualification in the workplace. At the same time, 70% of school leavers who don't go to university need to know that there are many career options available to them.
Each ITO was trying to get this message out there on our own. By working together, we knew we could have more impact.

3. What is the problem you are trying to solve?

New Zealand needs more skilled people in trades and services. Imagine a New Zealand where no-one knows how to cut your hair, restore your electricity after a storm, fix your car or toilet, make your food, build your house, install your heating, the list goes on. No matter how much the world changes, an app is never going to be able to do those practical things for you.

The practical people in trades and services careers keep New Zealand working and growing and contribute to our lives every day.

4. Everyone knows these jobs exist, why have a nationwide campaign about it?

We're raising awareness of the variety of roles and how these roles have changed. They are increasingly complex and highly skilled. You can't choose to be something you can't see. We want to show the opportunities. We're starting with the stories of more than 20 amazing young Kiwis who are growing their skills on the job and talking about how that makes them feel.

5. Who is the campaign audience and why should they care?

Students and jobseekers 16 - 24, their families and teachers.
Every-one knows the benefits to individuals, families and communities for being employed and learning new skills. 20% of people aged 16 - 24 are not currently employed or studying. We should all care about that.

Advertisement

6. What can a career in trades and services provide employees and business owners that you can't get from a university or polytechnic?

Industry training is about learning while you're earning. These are national qualifications designed by industry, developed for industry and delivered in the workplace.
Doing a job you enjoy, earning your own money and learning at the same time are all things our Got a Trade Week heroes tell us they value about on-job training in trades and services.

Business owners hire people for their attitude and willingness to learn. They can only test that in the workplace, with real world pressures. They can't always see that from the classroom results.

7. What advice would you give to a school leaver in 2015?

Trades are a great place to start. You are going to have multiple careers in your lifetime, at least four, probably more than 10. There is honour and opportunity in all work. Getting started is more important than where you started. No career decision you make now will be a tattoo, once you get started you will see more opportunities. You are going to be learning new skills throughout your life and you can get qualifications in the workplace not just in the classroom. Get out there amongst it, work hard and see where it takes you.

8. What advice would you give to parents with children preparing to leave school in 2015?

We say "get a job, earn while you learn and go far". Getting into the world of work straight out of school and doing a qualification on the job is a great way to get set up for success and independence. After all, independence and success are what we all want for our kids.

9. Any action as a result of the campaign so far?

There are already some great "aha!" moments - a parent who saw their child blossom as an apprentice after being miserable at university. And a teacher who decided to become a plumber after listening to our presentation about women in trades.

10. Long after the campaign is over, what would you like people to remember?

If you've got a trade, you've got it made.

For more information see: www.gotatrade.co.nz