Construction Apprentice’s Battle for Supremacy

April 11, 2024
April 10, 2024

The annual Northland heat of the Certified Builders Apprentice Challenge went off without a hitch this weekend. Held at NorthTec’s Dyer Street campus in Whangārei, the challenge is a regional competition for Construction Apprentices from across Te Tai Tokerau.

The Northland competition saw local apprentices spend the day building a structure from a set of plans, this year it was a BBQ table, over 8 hours. The apprentice who produces the most well-built table wins the competition and heads on down to Wellington for the National Competition later this year.

There were eight competitors this year, two from BCITO and six from NorthTec. Each apprentice is employed in the industry and was put forward by their employer to compete in the challenge, representing their employer and educational facility.

“It’s a great opportunity for the apprentices and a good thing to have on their CV whether they win or not,” says Whangārei MP Shane Reti, who was in attendance on the day. “It shows their employers had faith in them and their skills and knew they would represent them well in the competition.”

Every apprentice that attended was given a generous prize of combined construction gear, donated by the competition’s sponsors. The main sponsor, ITM donated all the materials for the challenge as well as tool bags, pencils, and other small hand tools to go in the prize packs for each competitor. Paslode donated a battery for the Paslode Nail Gun for each pack, Makita donated a tool belt each, and Stanley donated levels. All things that will set the apprentices up well for future jobs. There were also cash prizes for the first, second, and third-place winners.

“The design the apprentices have to build is different every year,” says Ben Wilkinson, a NorthTec construction tutor and one of the judges for the competition. “The BBQ table can be made within the 8 hours. Most could likely finish it within six hours, however, we encourage them to use all the time available to them to make it as close to perfect as possible.”

All eight competitors were able to finish their table within the designated time, however, due to the fantastic quality of the work, it took some time to judge the contestants and pick a winner.

“It was hard to pick the winner as they were all great quality pieces of work,” advises Chris Carter, NorthTec construction tutor who helped out on the day. “It took them a long time to whittle it down from the full eight to the top three. Even then, picking the winner was hard. They all did such a good job.”

Despite that, a winner still had to be picked. That winner was Jayden Hudson-Owen, a BCITO apprentice who works for CJ Building Services.

As the prize winner, Jayden took home a $500 cash prize along with the prize pack for each participant.

The second-place winner was Todd Yendall, a NorthTec apprentice working for Darcy Bowen. He took home the cash prize of $300. Elijah McQueen, another NorthTec apprentice who works for Richard Hilton-Jones took out third place with a cash prize of $100.

Jayden will be making his way down to Wellington later in the year, along with winners from the other regional competitions, to battle it out for a place as the national winner.

“I enjoy coming down to watch the competition every year,” says Shane Reti. “It’s interesting to see how things have changed in the industry. These guys are all very professional, they keep their sections clean, tidying as they go. All of their tools are often cordless, running on battery, which is a great change for the industry. I enjoy being able to come down and support the competition.”

Judges of the competition were Ben Wilkinson (NorthTec Tutor), Josh Welsh the 2022 Regional and National winner, and Cam Blackley (Certified Builders).

The tables produced were also sold to the attendees and spectators who wished to purchase them for $150 each, the profits then go into the Certified Builders apprenticeship charitable trust.

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