Thomas Forbes of Red Steel Napier has taken out this year's Steel Construction New Zealand's inaugural Apprentice of the Year Award.

The award worked to promote careers and training in the structural steel sector.

Mr Forbes said he was stoked to be the winner and credited his success to his drive to demonstrate initiative.

"I'm constantly focused on improving outcomes, such as decreasing fabrication time through different fabrication methods and procedures."


The award acknowledged people whose skills, drive and willingness to learn and work hard had helped them achieve outstanding outcomes.

It recognised well rounded apprentices who demonstrated talent in steel fabrication and commitment, innovation and ability, traits which were important in the industry.

Red Steel workshop manager, Alister Varcoe said that Mr Forbes regularly impressed him with his ability to learn and his exceptional ability to both fabricate and weld.

"Thomas rapidly became proficient at drawing interpretation and job planning. I was able to give him work on projects traditionally reserved for long-serving tradesman."

He said he was given an "extremely long leash" with the projects and it was not long before he separated himself from the crowd and became one of Mr Varcoe's go-to men for difficult projects.

The prestigious award was presented to Mr Forbes at a gala dinner which followed on from SCNZ's AGM conference in Napier on September 16.

Mr Forbes walked away with a trophy, certificate and $1000. Runner up Louie Lumampao of John Jones received a highly commended award and $500.

The judging process spanned over two months and the finalists had to go through face to face interviews with the four-person judging panel and then they were put to the test during a practical skills exercise.

Judging panel spokesman, Grant Simpson from Weldwell, said they had two excellent finalists that highlighted impressive ability of apprentices within their industry.

"The quality of their practical excerise was extremely high, which made it particularly difficult for the judging panel to determine the overall winner."

Blair Forbes the father of Thomas said he had done exceptionally well and they were very proud of him.

"He had every chance of getting it but you never know in this world, but we really hoped he would. It is great for him."