Learner Focus: Dream automotive job becomes reality with help from Māori and Pasifika Trades Training

Learner Focus: Dream automotive job becomes reality with help from Māori and Pasifika Trades Training

Last updated 16 December 2022
Last updated 16 December 2022

Jason Pou was 25 when he made a life-changing decision to leave a promising position in automotive retail and follow his dream of working hands-on with vehicles as a qualified professional.

Jason Pau

Jason Pou

“I was doing really well in the job I had, and had been given promotions with better pay, but it wasn’t the work I really wanted to be doing,” Jason says. Jason had joined Supercheap Auto working part-time while still at college. The job had appealed as he’d always enjoyed working on his own cars as a hobby at home in Auckland. After leaving school he progressed to full-time employment and eventually became an assistant manager, but the dream of turning his hobby into a profession grew too strong to ignore.

“I felt I needed to make the change, but I knew I lacked real skills and qualifications, so I decided to study,” Jason explains. In 2017, he enrolled with Unitec’s one-year Certificate in Applied Technology (Autotronics) course and received scholarship funding assistance from Māori and Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT).

MPTT connects training organisations, industry and employers to help Māori and Pasifika succeed and lead in the trades. In addition to funding training for those between the ages of 16 to 40, the scholarship programme helps trainees build skills, gain qualifications, find financial support and access practical assistance. Students can sign up for the scholarship on the organisation’s website or ask for the funding when applying for their course. 

“I didn’t know about MPTT before Unitec. It was awesome to have that funding support and meant I didn’t have student debt,” Jason says.  MPTT helped Jason to secure an interview and eventual apprenticeship with Mercedes-Benz in Auckland.  Now aged 30, Jason is where he wanted to be, working in a large dealership (Mercedes) as a workshop technician with a full Light Automotive Technician qualification behind him.

Gaining a position working for a reputable international brand has been advantageous, Jason explains. “With constantly changing markets for hybrids and electric vehicles I’m gaining a lot of early first-hand knowledge and training about those vehicles.”

Jason highly recommends learning on the job as a pathway into becoming fully qualified in the industry. “There’s no better way to do it really. You need access to on-the-job learning with real customers and their vehicles. Since I qualified, my confidence level is much better and I’m able to work faster, getting head down and hands into things. That comes from experience. I can still get help and advice from colleagues when I need to but I’m much more independent.” There has been a down-side he admits. “Now that I know what I’m doing under the bonnet the family wants me to spend my time off working on their cars!”

Brad Hepi is a Training Advisor with industry training organisation MITO, a division of Te Pūkenga, which partners with MPTT to identify young people that want a career in the automotive industry. “In my role as a Training Advisor we give theoretical and technical support and help guide them throughout the apprenticeship journey. We can also link our apprentices to mentors for an extra layer of care if needed.”

Brad says the industry is always changing. It’s becoming more technologically focused, especially in the area of electric, and there are plenty of opportunities.  “There’s a real shortage of qualified technicians in the industry at the moment, both for light vehicles and heavy vehicles. We have a genuine skill gap in both areas in New Zealand.”

The automotive industry employs almost 60,000 people and the qualifications that MITO supports include Automotive Technician (Mechanic), Collision Repair Technician and Refinisher (Panelbeater), EV Technician and more.