A Stratford building apprentice is already building a great reputation in the trade.

Liam Anderson won the Taranaki regional New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) Apprentice Challenge earlier this month, earning himself a place in the national competition.

Liam will represent Taranaki at the NZCB Apprentice Challenge Final, to be held at the NZCB Annual Conference in Christchurch this June. There he will face 19 other regional winners from around the country to compete for the Ken Read Memorial Trophy and $50,000 in prizes

Twenty-year-old Liam, who is in his third year of an apprenticeship with Adan Larsen Builders, says he is looking forward to the challenge.

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"The presentation part will probably be the hardest bit. But I know Adan and the team here will help me prepare for it."

Liam says communication and presentation are important skills in any builder's toolkit.

"You need to be able to communicate your ideas to the client, as well as communicate with the other tradies on the site."

Liam, who attended Pembroke School and Stratford High School, says he was still at school when he decided he was interested in the building trade as a career path.

"I did a Gateway programme through the school with a local builder, and it confirmed to me this was a job I would enjoy."

When Liam finished Year 13, he called local builders asking to be taken on.

"Adan listened to me and gave me an interview, then took me on."

Adan says it wasn't a difficult decision.

"We need to give our young people opportunities. Phil Swan and Brad Gibbons gave me my chance, and now I can do it for others. Liam came across as having a good, positive attitude, and was clean and tidily presented and I am certainly happy we took him on."

It isn't the first time one of Adan's apprentices has done well in the NZCB Apprentice Challenge.

"Tom Ferguson has gone through twice, so he has been able to give some advice to Liam."

At the regional challenge, Liam and his fellow competitors had to create a park seat from detailed construction plans, with just eight hours to do so.

The park seats were assessed by a panel of expert judges on workmanship, measuring, cutting and assembly, with Liam's receiving the highest overall score. The park seats will be donated to the Cancer Society.

Liam's win earned him a range of trade tools from the competition sponsor ITM, but he says more importantly, he has gained valuable experience.

"It is about working under pressure and being able to produce quality workmanship in a tight time frame."

Adan says this is exactly the sort of pressure builders can be under every day.

"We always have people watching our work - the client, other contractors, you are always under an element of pressure on site, so this competition gives the apprentices some great experience in dealing with it."

Adan says he would encourage more apprentices to try the challenge, which takes place every year.

"It is a great experience, and can lead to so much. We need more young people to give it a go, and we need their employers to encourage them and help them prepare."