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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON
@alliedpress.co.nz

Adult apprentices are bucking the trend in Alexandra.

Typically, apprentices were school leavers keen to get into the trades by training on the job, but it is becoming increasingly popular among a growing number of adults.

Brett McEwan (34), an apprentice carpenter for Breen Construction, is among them.

He is one of about 30 building apprentices employed by the company in a range of fields.

Of those apprentices, half were aged between 30 and 50.

Mr McEwan’s carpentry apprenticeship complements his qualification as a joiner.

He started his apprenticeship a year and a half ago, an opportunity that happened due to circumstance.

Formerly from Southland, Mr McEwan had been living in Australia when the company he was working for decided to close and focus on its base in Canada.

It was then that Mr McEwan started looking for a job back in New Zealand.

He secured a job driving jet-boats in Cromwell, but with a wedding on the agenda he decided to approach Breen Construction for some part-time work to make some extra money outside his regular hours.

Mr McEwan was later asked by the company if he would consider doing an adult apprenticeship.

“The fact you can earn and learn at the same time is a great incentive.” – Brett McEwan

Despite his love for his job driving jet-boats, he took up the offer and has not looked back.

He said the apprenticeship had the potential to help him earn more money, while also learning the skills needed to build his own home.

The apprenticeship takes between two to four years to complete and, for Mr McEwan, it currently involves work on the Russell St development in Alexandra.

He has also been involved in some insurance-related jobs and was sent to Timaru to help build a suspension bridge in the town’s scenic reserve.

“One thing I like about Breen [Construction] is the variety.

“The fact you can earn and learn at the same time is a great incentive,” he said, of the apprenticeship concept.

He was pleased to have been able to retrain the way he has, instead of going through a pre-trade tertiary course.

“I think if I had to go back to do a pre-trade first, I probably wouldn’t have done it,” he said.

Breen Construction director Trevor Breen said the company always strived to have apprentices coming through the system.

“We’ve always done it.

“It’s so crucial to get people training,” he said.

“We currently have 30 apprentices. They are always coming on and off and we are always replacing them.”