Rhys Forsyth was encouraged to enter the Central North Island Apprentice of the Year competition by his BCITO training advisor Tom Davie.
Mr Davie had told Rhys’ employer Gary Rowe, of National Park Construction, that he would be a perfect candidate for the award.
After submitting his entry form detailing a recent building project, Rhys was invited to an interview and a subsequent site visit by the regional judging panel, made up of representatives from the RMBF, Carters and the BCITO.
Rhys was announced the region’s top apprentice at an awards ceremony in New Plymouth in September.
Carters representative on the judging panel Trevor Parris says choosing a winner proved to be a difficult task, as entries in the Central North Island region were of a very high standard this year.
“Rhys is focused on construction, and displayed an excellent understanding of the practical and theoretical sides of the industry. He’s a very well-rounded and skilled young man, and an excellent role model for building apprentices,” Mr Parris says.
Winning the national Apprentice of the Year competition was “a bit of a surprise” for Rhys, who says the award is good recognition for all the hard work that goes into completing a carpentry apprenticeship.
His mother Julie, wife Deanna and boss Gary Rowe accompanied him to the national event in Wellington.
“Everyone was really happy for me,” Rhys says. “The award recognises the input of my employer and family as well.”
Rhys has worked for Mr Rowe for the past four years. He describes his employee as “a real goer”, and says he is a self-motivated young man who doesn’t need a lot of encouragement.
“He’s achieved a lot during his apprenticeship — he’s done his own subdivision and is now building his own house. I was really pleased that he won. Lots of people have congratulated us both,” Mr Rowe says.
“Rhys is very conscientious in his building. He builds everything as if it was his own, and takes great care. He’s always looking ahead, has good morals and doesn’t take short cuts.”
Rhys and wife Deanna, who is a nurse, share a passion for building accessible homes for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Deanna has worked for an organisation called Back-Up New Zealand, a national charity which has been created specifically to offer people with disabilities the same outdoor pursuit opportunities as people without disabilities.
“My current career goal is to build good quality homes, not just houses. I want to push the idea of accessible homes — it’s future proofing, not only in the products we use, but in the design and layout of houses too,” Rhys says.
Rhys and Deanna are building their home with this entrepreneurial design style in mind, and aim to have it finished in time for the birth of their first baby in March next year, after which Rhys will join forces with Mr Rowe again on a large residential project in Taupo.
Rhys embarked on a career in the construction industry after being inspired by members of his family.
“My father and brother are boat builders. I was interested in building, but wasn’t keen on the idea of working with all the chemicals boat builders use, so opted for carpentry,” he says.
“Building offers a great lifestyle. It works well with my love of skiing, as I spend a lot of time up at Mt Ruapehu coaching a freestyle ski team.”
Rhys was very impressed with the prizes he received, in particular the surprise addition to the prize pool announced at the awards presentation — a $5000 study grant from Carters.
“I’m tossing up between taking a small business course and a BCITO course that’s a level up from the National Certificate in Carpentry,” he says.
Rhys also plans to go to a trade show in Australia next year, and is looking forward to the prospect of completing the Outward Bound course with the other national finalists next August.
In his acceptance speech, Rhys acknowledged sponsors the RMBF, Carters, the BCITO and the DBH for their support of the competition, and thanked everyone who helped make the event possible.
“Carters is thrilled with this competition’s continuing growth and success, and congratulates all winners and national finalists,” national operations manager Andrew Cochrane says.
When asked if he has any advice for other apprentices entering the competition next year, Rhys says to “definitely push yourselves to achieve. Push the knowledge base and push the industry to become more informed.”