Our 10 regional winners who made up the national finalists were put through their paces on the Friday and Saturday under the critical eye of our national judges, were taken to dinner on the Friday night and then attended the awards evening on the Saturday night.
Each of the 10 finalists are fine young people, full of excitement and enthusiasm towards the construction industry and their chosen career path. The competition was tough and, in my opinion, they were all winners on the night, having made it through their respective regional competitions to get to the final.
Of course, only the top three places could be awarded, so the evening culminated in the awards and prize packages being presented. The packages included tools, education packages, a course at Outward Bound and more.
A highlight for all 10 finalists was an invitation for each of them to attend our national House of the Year event in Auckland in November. As I left the function, it was clear to me that the apprentices and their support people were in for a very long night!
On my return flight to Auckland the next day, the events of the night before encouraged me to reflect on my involvement with the RMBF and, in particular, my time as national president, which will end at our next conference. How time flies!
My role has been a busy one, especially when combining the demands with the running of my own business in what have generally been tough economic times.
However, it is just so rewarding. The opportunities presented are unique and the benefits are immeasurable. The friendships, the invitations, the travel, the venues, the events, the networking, the education and the personal development — the list goes on. I would not trade my time with the RMBF for anything.
Our leaders, our management, our staff and our members are all passionate about what we do and generous with the time needed to do it.
It is easy to become a little battle weary as we spend years working in an industry with huge challenges and escalating complexities. Meeting young, excited and energetic young people at our Apprentice of the Year events has reminded me of the reasons why we have all ended up in this industry.
We all want to have a career path, earn a good living and make a difference, while having some fun along the way.
We now owe it to our future generations of members to provide them with a sound career path and to cultivate an industry working environment that rewards our involvement.
The RMBF has been well led and managed for many years. Capable people seem to get involved at the right time, sometimes by chance, more often by planning.
As I have attended numerous regional AGMs around the country, I have noted hesitancy and, at times, reluctance from members to put their hands up and take on a committee or presidency role with their local association.
Often, it appears that people underrate themselves or think they are too busy to give their time. I strongly urge those of you who can become the future leaders of this organisation to get on and put your names forward in future.
From personal experience, I can honestly say that you will get more out of it than you put in to it.
I am quite confident that we will see a number of the national final apprentices putting themselves forward for these roles within our organisation one day. And when they do, I am confident that the RMBF will be in good hands!