Star joinery apprentice crushes all preconceptions in trade industry

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Angela Bellamy was recently named Apprentice Joiner of the Year by the Ara Institute of Technology for the third year running.

Angela Bellamy is rapidly turning many ideas about who should be working in the trades industry on its head as the 33-year-old joinery apprentice at Ruben’s Joinery in Springston was recently named the Apprentice Joiner of the Year by the Ara Institute of Technology for the third year running.

After building a successful management career in the tourism industry, Bellamy decided to make a radical change as she hit her thirties to follow her dream of working with her hands in a trade that required ingenuity and provided new challenges.

Bellamy, who was a high achiever at high school and felt the expectations of following an academic pathway to university, says she found her answer within the trades.

It took her nearly 10 years and incredible courage to deviate from that traditional pathway and follow her passion and her gut instinct not to “get stuck behind a desk”.

“I feel it is a damaging misconception that students with intellect will only be found in desk jobs, and that only people who managed poor grades during schooling will progress into the trades or the general workforce,” Bellamy says.

She encourages all youngsters to consider a career in trades, and not see it as the second option for those who can’t go to university.

She says her joinery apprenticeship provided her with the continued learning and challenge that she desired, as well as being intellectually testing.

“I have had nothing but support and continued backing from my tutors and employer,” she says.

Employer Ruben Patchett says Bellamy is dedicated to her work, continually improving her skills and applying her theory learned at Ara, while she also helps to improve the company’s systems.

“Angela has been a great asset for our team and has established herself in our wee company as a key worker within the team,” Patchett says.

The Rakaia-based apprentice was not intimidated by what is still perceived to be a masculine profession, and says there is evidence that this is slowly but surely starting to shift.

“For any young females out there considering a job in the trades but who might be hesitant in making the decision due to social perceptions, I can only say that you will be pleasantly surprised by the support you will receive,” Bellamy says.  

“And if you do encounter any obstacles, most training organisations have resources available for females to assist them in settling into and succeeding in the trades.”

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