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Stacey Roy has always had a passion for cars. She left school and went on to complete her cooking qualification at the Culinary Institute in Kerikeri and had a successful career as a chef. As she started her own catering business, she wanted to keep herself busy so followed her passion and enrolled in NorthTec’s NZ Certificate in Automotive Engineering in Kaitaia.
“I love this course. We all get on really well and have a diverse range of skill sets – we help each other out. The tutor here is such a good teacher, he gets around to every student to make sure they have everything they need. He even helps us to find work experience outside of the course.
“This course is really hands-on. It’s only three days a week and we work in a workshop on real cars. These cars are brought to us by people around Kaitaia who might not be in a position to afford taking them to a mechanic. We work on them, gain the skills we need to and then they bring us in biscuits or coffee and we all happy. It gives us great satisfaction to see those cars we have worked on out in the community!
“The course has made me so much more confident. It has taught me to work on different makes and models of cars and just reassured me in the skills that I already had. It’s definitely made me work-ready.
“I live locally and wanted to come to NorthTec because I didn’t want to move anywhere – it’s great having somewhere close so I don’t have to worry about accommodation or travel or anything like that.
“I love the problem-solving side to mechanics, sometimes it goes all straightforward and it’s easy and that’s fine, but sometimes you need to really think about what you’re doing and if something isn’t quite right, thinking of a way to do it better. I also like being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“The best part about studying at NorthTec is that there is a lot of support for a lot of things. There is an understanding that people have stuff going on in their lives outside of the course. There’s always a way to work around your life and your needs.
“I’ve been offered some work experience with a mobile mechanic that works on heavy machinery and I think that’s a great avenue to go down because in Kaitaia, the heavy transport industry is quite big.”
“I’ve always been interested in cars and fixing them - I decided it was now time to chase what I love and this course...
“I’ve always been interested in cars and fixing them but I have spent my life doing other work to support my car habit. I decided it was now time to chase what I love and this course was near where I live. I had the skills but these days we need tickets to show what we know.”
“I love being able to come to a place where I can immerse myself in the trade, do what I love, and improve my skills with a team who are all into the same thing. I’m used to learning things by myself by trial and error so it’s awesome to be with others on my level and tutors with their 40 years in the trade. I enjoy our teamwork on jobs and we bounce a lot of ideas off each other. It doesn’t feel like work.”
“I had a bit of knowledge about a lot of things, so the course is filling in gaps in my understanding of how things work and interconnect, and I’m amazed at the depth of knowledge you can reach. It’s also making my own diagnostics at home easier. The challenge for me is learning to deal with the new generation of electrics in cars. We grew up with old cars that we knew how to fix but it’s important to keep up with the electric diagnostics and systems or you get left behind.”
“My main goal here is to get the ticket demonstrating that I have the knowledge and the skills so that I can work in the automotive industry. The bonus is that it’s also good for my own confidence. One day I might start my own small workshop, but for now a mate who runs a side business in car repair heard I was doing this course and has asked me to do some work.”
“When I was young I wasn’t ready to commit myself to my passion, but I’ve learnt that anything you really want in life is there when you are ready…..just don’t leave it too long.”
“I want to say a big thanks to NorthTec and our tutor for inspiring not only me but our whole class to do our best in...
“I love cars and grew up around them because my dad was a mechanic and they were always my hobby. But I had my first child at the age of 16 which held me back a little bit. Then in 2018, I started running the Northland team for the Suicidal Car Club in Whangarei. At that time the suicide rate was through the roof and we were keen to set a club modelled on one that my sister-in-law had set up in Auckland. It is a youth-orientated automotive space where at-risk youth can hang out and learn general automotive skills to give them something cool to do to keep them occupied.”
“The need for this finally gave me the courage to sign up for the automotive course. I saw the progress some of my friends and family were making in other NorthTec courses and I knew the quality of education, the facilities, and support were amazing. Now that I’m on board here, every course day is a great day for me, I learn something new, and I have a great time doing it.”
“Engines in general are a challenge to me especially remembering the names and what goes where but that's what doing this course is all about. Every new journey in life is a challenge but challenges are what make you who you are.”
“I’m really surprised at how my confidence and time management skills are blooming here. I’ve had to learn how to be in a workshop environment and be job ready, and my health and safety strategies when working on vehicles have also dramatically improved now that I’ve learnt the right way to do things. Another surprise is realising how much welding is involved in automotive and finding that I really enjoy it and am pleased to gain that skill.”
“Our tutor is very inspiring, educational and supportive and always pushes us to strive for our best. All of the tutors and staff at NorthTec are welcoming, they have great tips and advice, are always involved, and there when you need them.”
“Completing this course will have a massive impact on my life. Having first done level 2, I’m now nearly finished level 3, then I want to get an apprenticeship, then a job and become a fully paid Mama. I have two young children and my family has lived off one income for a very long time so having two working parents will hugely impact our family’s life.”
“My dream is to earn a living as a fully qualified mechanic, as well as to run an automotive-focused youth space to keep our Whangarei/Northland youth occupied, safe and educated in the automotive sense.”
“I want to say a big thanks to NorthTec and our tutor for inspiring not only me but our whole class to do our best in everything we do here so that we can be job ready.”
Meet Grace Woodhouse, a current learner of the NZ Certificate in Automotive Engineering Level 3.
“The best part about studying here is being involved with the International Rally when it comes to Whangarei. Working...
“I’ve been around cars all my life, and I wanted to fix them so I started my studies at the Kaikohe campus last year and have now moved to Whangarei to complete the Level 3 Certificate in Automotive Engineering.
“We learn basic things to more professional things, from a full service to changing tyres and all that sort of stuff.
“After this programme, I will gain an apprenticeship and go on to become a mechanic.
“The best part about studying here is being involved with the International Rally when it comes to Whangarei. Working on the rally cars alongside international teams is pretty awesome, it’s not an everyday thing! I think it will help me in my future career, for sure.
“My advice to students would be just to give anything a go, whatever opportunity comes your way.”
“Working on the rally cars for the International Rally that comes to Whangarei is just awesome. It’s a really rare...
“When I was growing up I wanted to be an auto mechanic in a car workshop and someone recommended NorthTec to me and I thought I would follow it up.
“I really like the course itself. I think it’s really well planned, we go through certain tasks and we complete it term by term and it flies by to be honest.
“My favourite part about the course is the tools! There is not a lack of tools around the workshop. And the tutors - they’re always friendly and here to help. I’m in a small group of people in my class so I get a lot of one-on-one time with the tutors.
“What motivates me now is the opportunity of an apprenticeship at the end of the course and a career path.
“The tutors teach us a full run down of the car engine - we disassemble it, reassemble it, and see all of the components multiple times. You learn the right practices too, you’re not just following what your old man does. We learn the skills needed for when you start working.
“Working on the rally cars for the International Rally that comes to Whangarei is just awesome. It’s a really rare opportunity and gives us the experience and skills we wouldn’t usually get. It’s also really cool to network and meet the big names in the industry!
“Being in the automotive industry is great because it’s hands-on and practical work.
“If anyone is thinking about coming on this course, I would say just do it! It’s fees-free! You have nothing to lose!”
“I used to have a lot of excuses as to why I couldn’t move my life forward – the kids, or not enough time or money...
“My motivation to study Automotive Engineering was partly personal need, partly for a career change, and partly financial. I’d been working in retail for 7 years and was ready for a change. I have three young kids so I wanted something I was interested in with flexible hours, and I was keen to train in a trade to up-level my earning capacity. I’m also very reliant on my own car and wanted to be more self-sufficient in repairing it.”
“At high school I was interested in cars but there was only engineering then and that wasn’t for me, so I decided it was time to explore my car interest again. NorthTec was easy to find, had a professional feel to it, has great resources and workshops, and I’m now loving everything about the course.”
“I love learning so many new things and it’s very satisfying being able to fix something. It’s also given me more appreciation of cars and their complexity. Our class is the first to do this through e-learning which really suits me. We still do our regular class schedule and practical and theory assignments, and the tutor is there to guide us and back us up, but we hardly use any paper or books. I love this aspect because I usually loose things and this keeps me in order.”
“I’m amazed that my initial motivation to do the course was a need, then became a want, and is now a passion. It’s all new and exciting and I’m retaining the knowledge because I’m interested. I really look forward to Mondays now, and at the moment I’m removing an engine, fixing it, and replacing it. The tutors are great and explain things to a beginner like me while still attending to those with more experience. We’re from all different backgrounds and trades, and more women are stepping up now so half of our class is female.”
“There are so many possibilities as to where this training can lead and at the moment I’m developing an interest in diesel mechanics, but my options are open and I’m keen to do an apprenticeship after this.”
“When I’ve got enough experience and confidence, I’d love to open a tiny workshop especially for female customers. It can be intimidating for women going into an auto workshop and they can feel vulnerable because of the lack of knowledge. I would run the workshop on my own terms working flexible hours that suited my life, and it could model a different way to do business.”
“I used to have a lot of excuses as to why I couldn’t move my life forward – the kids, or not enough time or money – but now that I’ve stepped up, I’d encourage others to just try something. Don’t let fear stand in your way – and you might find it’s easier and more fun than you expected.”
“When I complete the course I hope to have the knowledge and confidence to help our community with keeping their cars...
“In the north we have a huge reliance on our vehicles to get to work and take our families and ourselves to where we need or want to be. Maintaining our vehicles is expensive so a lot of people either don’t use them and withdraw from the outer world – including work - or drive them in an unsafe condition. I see a need there that I may be able to help with.”
“My work background has been in admin and in early childhood and I was looking for something different. I retired in Auckland a few years ago then got some spiritual guidance to move up here. Some kids in a gateway programme I was involved in told me about this course and suggested I could do level 2 and 3. I had watched YouTube videos enough to fix my own car but I’ve never really been very hands-on, so this was a challenge for me.”
“However, I’m now learning a lot and starting to understand how cars work. I’ve done a lot of health work with medical missionaries and now I compare the physiology of a car with that of the body. The life blood of the car is oil. If our blood is clogged or toxic we’re unhealthy, and if a car’s oil is dirty the car is unhealthy.”
“Doing the paperwork for the unit standards is a challenge for me but my daughters are now helping me with my study. I enjoy our class and it’s a good balance of seriousness and a lot of laughs in a well-resourced environment.”
“When I complete the course I hope to have the knowledge and confidence to help our community with keeping their cars on the road in an affordable way. Ngapuhi health and social services have yet to acknowledge the huge dependence we have up here on our vehicles. I’ve seen too many people driving around with no brakes or no warrant of fitness because they can’t afford the repairs and need to get to work.”
“I’d love to start a type of ‘Man Cave’ for vehicles where people can bring their car in and I can diagnose what’s wrong and give some idea of what it would cost to fix it. I would then discern if there was something in the way of getting it fixed (finances, health etc.) and then help get that sorted out. I could also maybe advise a family when they are trying to decide what the best value car for them to buy is. Getting this ticket would be a start to validating my knowledge and my role. Things are still in the exploratory stage but already there is some interest from local organisations.”
I love every part of working here and it’s been an easy transition from being a student to a working apprentice.
“I didn’t know much about automotive engineering but I was keen to learn. Before I started the course I brought my CV in here to Keith Andrews Trucks and they suggested I do the NorthTec pre-trade course. I loved it because I was hungry to learn and went into it with a fresh mind.”
“The course gave me a good general knowledge and exposed us to lots of different aspects of the industry, so I had a good grounding to come into the trade. As well as the automotive skill set, it gave us a good attitude for working with other people and keeping our work spaces and processes clean, tidy and safe.”
“Throughout the year of the course I was doing work experience here at Keith Andrews Trucks, and when I finished I applied for an apprenticeship here and got it. I’m doing the National Certificate in Motor Industry in Automotive Heavy Engineering with a Road Transport strand.”
“I love every part of working here and it’s been an easy transition from being a student to a working apprentice. I’m now starting to pick up things in more depth and am learning a lot more about how things work. I’m tapping into as much knowledge as I can here and will keep my focus as broad as possible for as long as possible to get a feel for what I want to specialize in later.”
I spoke with the workshop manager and he suggested I do the NorthTec pre-trade course, then come back and apply for...
“I grew up around trucks because my Dad was a panel-beater and I knew I wanted to go into the automotive industry but not in panel-beating. I’ve had a link here at Keith Andrews Trucks as part of our high school Gateway Programme automotive option where I had a placement here for a day a week for four weeks. I spoke with the workshop manager and he suggested I do the NorthTec pre-trade course, then come back and apply for an apprenticeship. All the new apprentices here have done that course.”
“The pre-trade course was a great fit for working here. The tutors made sure we learnt the importance of a good attitude with both customers and workmates, and they emphasized safety. We got an overview of the basics of the industry and how things work, so we can grow off that foundation. We also got a lot of trade credits that knock a year off the apprenticeship. The tutors’ great contacts and links within the industry give the students a foot in the door with job opportunities.”
“I completed the one year pre-trade course and was then offered an apprenticeship here at Keith Andrews Trucks. It involved a night class once a week and a block course each year and I became trade qualified in 2016.”
Josh has continued to learn and train on the job. “I’ve done training in Mercedes Benz, Allison Transmissions, St Johns electric and hydraulic stretchers, North Power powerline bucket trucks, and have also got my welder’s qualification to be able to weld truck chassis. It’s a tough two day test and I was lucky enough to pass. Only two others in the company have it.”
“I really like the emphasis of everyone here on always moving forward. Keith Andrews Trucks is a growing business that is now three times the size that it was when I first started with them. My next step is to do a second apprenticeship here in auto-electrical and then I’ll see what unfolds from there.”
"I looked forward to coming to Tec every day." Jordan has always loved being around cars and enjoyed the mix of...
Since leaving the automotive course, Jordan has progressed into work with AutoCare in Whangarei, where he is completing his mechanical apprenticeship, and he says: “I love my job!”
Jordan found the course at NorthTec had a great team feel between the tutors and the students, and a good mix of classroom and practical work.
“We all hung out together and built strong friendships. I looked forward to coming to Tec every day, especially as students were allowed to work on their own vehicles once they finished their course work.”
“I’m really keen on general car maintenance and I love doing car modifications. After my apprenticeship I’d love to have my own workshop one day, fixing and modifying cars.”