Leading building apprentice Tim Crasborn must have had a good eye for a new career when he changed jobs three years ago.

He was an optometrist with qualifications from five years studying in Utrecht in Holland.

Crasborn, who has Dutch parents and whose father who turned from optometry to orcharding, was 18 when he outgrew Havelock North High School and headed for Holland.

Now 34, and winner last week of New Zealand Certified Builders Apprentice Challenge Hawke's Bay regional final, he says he'd tired of the same day-in, day-out routine and had a dream of one day building his own home.

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Hammering home a new career: Optometrist-turned-builder on the job in Napier. Photo/Doug Laing
Hammering home a new career: Optometrist-turned-builder on the job in Napier. Photo/Doug Laing

He's now well on the way, with the dream job working for Onekawa villa and bungalow renovation specialist Christie Builders and Joiners.

Crasborn will be one of 19 in the challenge's national final in Christchurch on June 14-15.

Up for grabs will be prizes worth $50,000, and the Ken Read Memorial Trophy.

Working from detailed construction plans, six Hawke's Bay apprentices were given eight hours to create a park seat, the end-results being judged on workmanship, measuring, cutting and assembly, before being donated to the regional Cancer Society division.

Crasborn said he was in his element in the competition.

He's recently worked on a year-old renovation of a century-old home, and says: "It's a really good company to work for, because we specialise in renovating old bungalows and villas, with a lot of detail you just wouldn't see in a modern home.

"And you don't know what's there till you open up the walls — it can be a whole can of worms."

Crasborn has immersed himself, with the aim that he will eventually build his own new home, likely a smaller home demonstrating his dislike for some of the bigger spacious homes of the modern developments.

It will be an advance on a 10sq m hut he's built in Hastings, but says it will be quality with extra time well-spent.

NZCB chief executive Grant Florence was impressed with the skill, talent and passion the carpentry apprentices demonstrated – a testament to their dedication, employer support, and the comprehensive training provided by the ITAB (Industry Training Association Building) scheme.

"We encourage our member builders to take on apprentices, as it creates a pathway into the industry and ensures the sector can meet the increasing demand for trade-qualified, highly-skilled and well-rounded building professionals," he said.

More comprehensive than other apprentice training schemes and programmes, the ITAB apprenticeship scheme provides over four years of extensive practical experience and solid theoretical training, setting apprentices up for a successful career in the building industry with a broad set of professional skills.