After years working as a veterinarian nurse, Michelle Mahy decided to make a career switch and take up a trade as a sparky.
She has not looked back since and was among the region's brightest apprentices taking part in the 2021 Master Electricians Apprentice Challenge on Tuesday in Napier.
Mahy said she was enjoying her new career, working for Buzz Electrics, and was almost a year into her apprenticeship.
"I lived overseas for a few years and came home and was looking for the next challenge.
"I had done as much as I could as a nurse here in New Zealand and there were more opportunities as an electrician."
She said she was the first in her family to pick up the trade and she studied a pre-trade course at EIT before beginning her apprenticeship.
Mahy encouraged more women to join the industry and said she "definitely has no regrets" about making the move.
"Go for it. You're the only one that will stop yourself really. It is all about motivating yourself."
She said her company had been great supporting and training her, and she had learned a lot during Tuesday's Master Electricians Apprentice Challenge.
The challenge includes events across the country for apprentices and the best of the best are then invited to a national final.
The challenge included four modules on Tuesday, each taking about an hour, testing the apprentices' skills and knowledge.
Eight people entered the Hawke's Bay event at the Crown Hotel in Napier with participants competing in a commercial and domestic section and an industrial section.
Quintin Sewell from Brett-Tech Electrical took out the commercial and domestic section and Travis Young (EMF Electrical) won the industrial section. The pair won $200 and new tools.
Master Electricians national operations manager Mathew Lawrence said although Mahy was the only woman in the Napier event he had noticed an increase in women joining the industry as apprentices.
"We have had quite a few females turn out and compete around the country."
He added it was a great career to get into and he encouraged anyone considering taking up the trade to "give it a go".
"We have a huge shortage. It is a shortage you would not believe," he said, about electricians in New Zealand.
"Apprenticeship numbers have been boosted this year by Covid because people can not come into the country.
"There is so much demand."
A date and location for the national final of the Master Electricians Apprentice Challenge is yet to be finalised.