From Graphic Design to Building Fences: The benefits of retraining as an adult.

March 27, 2024
March 26, 2024

Martin Tomas spent his 20s training and then working as a graphic designer, attached to a desk and a laptop or computer for the vast majority of his working days. That is until he threw it all in to become a fencer.

“I used to be an office worker,” explains Martin. “It wasn’t good for me, not good for my body or my mind. Being inside all the time, unable to move around, just wasn’t for me.”

“When I was in the office, I found that I tended to have a lot of the same conversations with the same people day in and day out. I wasn’t learning and progressing as much as I wanted, and I never felt good in my body.”

Martin quit the graphic design industry and turned his attention to something that would get him outside and working in a whole new environment. It started out with farm work in the Whangārei area, but he quickly turned his attention to something that suited him a bit more and played off his strength.

“I was just really interested in fencing. I wanted to learn more, get better, get some experience.” Martin has now been working in the fencing industry for over three years and has recently struck out on his own to run a fencing business in Whangārei.

As part of his plan to run his own company, Martin realised he needed to get qualified in the industry. That’s when he enroled in the NZ Certificate in Fencing (Level 3) at NorthTec. The course is run in multiple locations across the motu, and Martin was able to study from NorthTec’s Future Trades Campus.

“I knew I needed to learn new skills and I was keen to see what other fencers were up to,” says Martin. “Everybody who works in fencing will tell you to do things differently, everyone has their own techniques. The course really helped bring everyone’s ideas together and you get to hear how everyone else does things. It’s a great course and I plan to do the next one, the level 4 course, as well.”

The NZ Certificate in Fencing (Level 4) builds on the fencing techniques learned in Level 3 and delves further into fence and yard design as well as business and staff management and leadership skills. It will be the next step for Martin on his business journey, but he is planning on having a short break first.

“Despite the fact I’ve been fencing for a while now, I still learnt a lot from the course. So I’m going to have a short break from studying to solidify all the things I’ve learnt so far. Then I’ll move on to the next part.”

The industry itself has done wonders for Martin, and he’s extremely happy in his new career.

“Fencing is a great combination of the physical and mental work for me,” he explains. “You have to be physically capable, and I enjoy the hard work. But you also have to plan and design the fence work. When people first start, they have to mostly do the physical runt work, and that might put people off. But after a while when you’re planning your own fences, you realise there’s a lot that goes into it and a finesse required.”

“For me the job is perfect. It works great for me and my family. If my kids aren’t at school or are on holiday, they can come with me to work. They love watching and seeing how it works. It’s a great job.”

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