Bright future for 2013 Apprentice of the Year national finalists


Entries for the 2014 Registered Master Builders Apprentice of the Year competition are about to close and the judges are poised to start assessing this year’s talent. Building Today caught up with Ben Mitchell (Wellington/Wairarapa) and Eugene Sparnon (Northern) to find out about their experience as national finalists at last year’s Apprentice of the Year competition.

What inspired you to enter Apprentice of the Year?

Ben Mitchell: I’m very competitive, so the opportunity to go up against my peers in the building industry to test my skills and abilities was too good to pass up. The awesome prizes were also pretty good inspiration!

Eugene Sparnon: I was impressed by both the profile and prizes previous contestants had gained from entering Apprentice of the Year — that made me want to give it a go. I like a good challenge.

What did you think of the regional competition?

BM: The competition was such a valuable experience for me. I learnt so much about the building industry, both theoretically and practically, that I don’t think I would have gained otherwise. The people you meet and the respect you gain is huge.

ES: The regional experience was a great way for me to gauge my own personal progress as an apprentice. As the only apprentice on the building site, it was hard for me to figure out where I stood amongst my peers, so winning the regional competition was reassurance that I was doing a good job.

What did you take away from the national competition?

BM: Nationals were a huge step up from the regional competition. I learnt a lot about working under pressure, and building alongside other contestants in front of the public really boosted my confidence. The whole competition was good fun — I really enjoyed it.

ES: It was great to meet and compete against like-minded young builders. The competition was really challenging, but something I would definitely do again. The best part was standing back at the end of the day and looking at my finished product, knowing I had worked as hard as I could for a good cause.

What are your plans for the future?

BM: I’m really keen to get some work experience overseas and learn about the different ways of building. I’ll be qualified at the end of the year, so that will be my first move. After that I’ll look at furthering my studies, starting my own company or moving into a project manager role.

ES: I’m in the process of venturing out on my own which I’m really excited about. My ultimate goal is to get to a point where I’m building quality, innovative homes that are worthy of a House of the Year title. That’s the plan, anyway!

What would you say to other apprentices thinking of entering the competition?

BM: I’d tell any apprentice to give it a go. Even if you don’t end up winning the regionals or the nationals, the people you meet and the respect you gain from your peers and leaders in the building industry is massive. The whole process really makes you think and learn a lot more about your work and about building in general.

ES: Start your application early — it takes time and needs effort. This competition has the potential to open doors and gives you the chance to meet the best in the business. It’s just a great opportunity. What have you got to lose?

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