2012 MTA Apprentice of the Year competition
That day, Wellington’s weather gave Ben Liddle, and James Dennis a rocky landing at Wellington airport, while Jason Brownlee had to be diverted to Palmerston North and catch a bus to the angry capital. Zeb Walker who drove from Wanganui, looked to be the only competitor for a while but eventually the other three joined him in the competition.
They managed to stay cool calm and collected and set to work on the tasks at hand like the true professionals they are. There were five components to the competition; a panel interview and four practical tasks, with 45 minutes allowed per task. All of the apprentices displayed strengths in different areas, making for a very close competition.
After the competition they enjoyed a night out in the capital, exchanging notes on how they went in the competition earlier that day. Ben, James, Jason and Zeb each took away an array of prizes on the day, including; tickets to the All Blacks versus Argentina test match in Wellington that night, a $500 Telecom voucher, a gaming console, a trade tools package from Repco, and much more.
The judges were impressed by the level of skill and professionalism displayed by all four finalists, and said it was a very close competition.
And the winner is...
Congratulations to Zeb Walker of David Jones Motors, Wanganui who has taken out the MTA Apprentice of the Year 2012 title.
Zeb says that the day-long final was a tough and testing one. “The tasks were all pretty challenging, but they were all things that we have encountered during our apprenticeship” says Zeb.
The electronic fuel injection task went pretty well for him, but Zeb says it was the panel interview that was the most challenging. “It was pretty long and quite in-depth, it’s a bit daunting to sit in front of three judges and talk for 45 minutes,” he says.
V8 supercar driver Greg Murphy, called Zeb to announce that he was the winner of the competition and that he would be part of the Greg Murphy Racing (GRM) pit-crew in the V8 Development Series at the Sydney Telstra 500. “He was very stoked to get my call, he sounds like he will be a good addition to the team,” says Greg.
David Jones who nominated Zeb for the award could not speak highly enough of his apprentice, describing Zeb as diligent, and a hard worker who is approachable, friendly and intelligent.
“Zeb has the enthusiasm for our industry coupled with the right attitude and skills to allow him to take his career in any direction, and he will always have the backing of our company,” says David. “The team and I at David Jones Motors are all incredibly proud of Zeb and his achievement.”
Kerryn Foote, MTA HR Advisor and interview panellist, says that Zeb really stood out during the interview. “Zeb is very focussed and self motivated. He showed incredible initiative and prepared himself for every part of the competition. He is very passionate about what he wants to do and I’m sure he will succeed in whatever he sets his mind to.”
As part of his prize, Zeb will be a part of the GRM pit-crew in the V8 Development Series at the Sydney Telstra 500 later this year, receive a $3,500 cash prize, a study grant from MITO, tickets to MTA awards dinner at MTA Get Away, as well as the prizes he received for being a finalists. There is also a substantial prize package for his employer.
Zeb plans to do his ATech qualification next year, and in the future he’d like to own his own business. But for now he wants to learn more about the auto electrical side of the industry and see where it takes him.
We look forward to following his progress.
Meet the finalists who competed for the title. Hear what their employers have to say about why they nominated them for the MTA Apprentice of the Year competition.
Employer: Ken Williams, Coastwide Honda (Greymouth)
When Ken Williams first employed Jason he described him as a typical teenager, who was hard to keep focussed. But he soon proved his worth, and over the past two and a half years Jason worked hard on both the written and practical aspects of his apprenticeship, and has received his Certificate in Automotive Engineering Level 4.
Ken explains that Jason’s engineering and mechanical skills are excellent, but it’s his ability to problem solve and think outside the box to find solutions to problems where he really shines. “He shows an excellent understanding of vehicle systems and uses his knowledge to fault find, and diagnose problems,” says Ken.
“Of all the apprentices we have trained in the last 15 years, Jason has been the fastest to complete his qualification, but he also shows the most understanding of what he has learnt. Jason has gone from cocky and casual, to accomplished and skilled. And I think that more than qualifies him to compete for the Apprentice of the Year title,” he adds.
Employer: Bill Wilson, Eastern Truck and Marine (Napier)
When Ben arrived at Eastern Truck and Marine, it was obvious to General Manager, Bill Wilson that he was a young man who has got what it takes to succeed. “Growing up on a farm had prepared him with a good work ethic comprising a great ‘can do’ attitude, patience, enthusiasm and a real passion for learning. His background has meant that he’s far more mature than his age, and he has a tremendous desire to work and succeed,” says Bill.
Bill explains that Ben has forged an impressive academic record during his time as an apprentice, but it is his ability to be a natural leader and ‘go to’ person for his peers that makes him standout. “He’s a real role model and mentor for the younger guys here, he’s the type of guy that’s got everything it takes to go to the top.” Bill adds.
"We are all very proud of Ben and what he has achieved to date, his loyalty and his commitment to work are of the highest standard. This is endorsed by his colleagues and our customers and we are pleased to have nominated Ben for this award.”
Employer: Brian Pay, Independent Vehicle Services Ltd (Gore)
Cars have been a passion for James since a very young age, so it was a natural decision for him to do an Automotive Engineering apprenticeship.
Brian Pay believes that James is a stand out apprentice due to his good work habits, ability to listen, and carry out a job without hassle. “James enjoys doing challenging work, and I have confidence in him that he will complete the job right through to the end, he talks through the whole process of work undertaken to the vehicle owner, which is very important for both the customer and the business,” says Brian.
“James has a quick thinking, ‘can do’ attitude. I believe that he can go far in this industry, with more learning and studying I’m sure he will undoubtedly achieve his goals and we will help as much as possible to make sure he gets there,” Brian adds.