It was pretty nerve wracking being watched while completing a carpentry task on Saturday, Whanganui apprentice Steve Christensen says.

He was one of six undertaking the practical skills section of the Central North Island Registered Master Builders' CARTERS 2018 Apprentice of the Year competition. It took place at Carters' Wilson St store on Saturday morning, with six apprentices present.

Inside a cordoned off area, each was given materials and instructions to build something.

For two hours they were watched by prowling judges, and about 20 members of the public.

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Christensen had to build a tool box. Others had a saw horse, a toy box and a bird house.

It's the first year that apprentices have had their practical skills tested. Competitors enter by writing a report on a building project they are involved in. The top 10 will from the region will have their projects visited and face a judging panel in the next stage of the competition.

Results for the Central North Island will be known on August 31.

Then the region's best apprentice will compete against others from around New Zealand in Auckland in November. The winner will be the Registered Master Builders' CARTERS 2018 Apprentice of the Year and get a share in $100,000 worth of prizes.