Bill Harkness was “chuffed” when his name was read out as the Registered Master Builders Carters 2013 Apprentice of the Year.
This is not the first time the 22-year-old carpentry apprentice from Havelock North has entered Apprentice of the Year — after taking out third place in the Hawke’s Bay region in 2012, Bill was set on bettering his win this year. “Last year was such a great experience, and this year I really wanted to take it a step further and make it to the national finals,” he says.
“I’ve always been interested in building, right from when I was really young. Coming out on top is an incredible feeling.”
Bill and the other national finalists were put through their paces over the two days of the national competition, each undergoing a 45-minute interview with the judging panel, followed by the practical judging component in front of friends, family and the public.
Bill says the biggest challenges he faced were in the practical component where each apprentice was given five hours to build a playhouse, which was gifted to a local charity on completion.
“Going into the challenge, you know very little of what you’re going to be doing so I think everyone was pretty nervous. My biggest challenge was definitely time management — when I got in there, that just seemed to go out the window,” he says.
“There were also a few materials that I had never worked with before — we used rusticated weatherboards for the playhouses, which were completely new to me.”
Bill’s employer, Ben Redmond of Redmond Builders and Construction, says Apprentice of the Year is fantastic for exposure and recognition.
“The competition was a real opportunity for Bill to showcase what he can do. Being a shy, humble kind of guy who won’t yell about his achievements, seeing him win Apprentice of the Year was extremely satisfying,” he says.
“For me personally, this has been a great experience. We really invest in our apprentices, and it’s wonderful to be recognised for that investment. I’ve had a lot of people congratulate me and realise the effort and work I put into Bill and my other apprentices, which is so nice to hear.”
Being involved in Apprentice of the Year was a valuable experience for Bill, and he believes any apprentice thinking of entering the competition should do it.
“Being part of the competition is so worthwhile. You learn so much and you’re really pushed to your limit,” he says.
“Apprentice of the Year is a huge name to have on your back, and it stands for a lot. I think the recognition I’m getting from the competition is really setting me up for the rest of my career.
My name is out there now and that, in itself, is invaluable.”
Bill has taken home more than $20,000 worth of prizes, including an Apple iPad, a Carters Business Tools Grant towards furthering his career valued at $5000, a tool and safety gear pack worth $1000 and the use of a Ford Ranger XLT vehicle for the duration of his reign as Apprentice of the Year.
The Apprentice of the Year competition is made possible thanks to principal sponsor Carters, the Registered Master Builders Federation, the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO), and supporting sponsor the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).