Apprentices Thrive in Otago

Mosgiel’s Hayden McCulloch is an advocate for apprenticeships. And he knows what he’s talking about as he’s been there, done that!

After completing a pre-trade course at Otago Polytechnic, Hayden applied for a job at Otago Farm Machinery, and the rest as they say, is history.

My advice is to knuckle down, set realistic goals and you will achieve a lot.

Hayden completed a National Certificate in Automotive Heavy Engineering (Agricultural Equipment) with MITO, as an apprentice at Mosgiel’s Otago Farm Machinery, a John Deere Service and Sales dealership. Since then, he has also completed MITO’s First Line Management Programme and ATech® (Advanced Technical Programme).

Now working as Service Manager, Hayden sets up the jobs for the other technicians and enjoys getting out doing farm machinery repairs when he can.

“I can see our work from both perspectives, and I really enjoy that aspect,” said Hayden. “I set the job up and allocate the team to do it, but I can also relate to the circumstances the guys find themselves in,” he added. As nearly three quarters of the company’s work is based out in the community, predominantly on farms, the team work in all sorts of conditions. 

Hayden McCullough and Cam Pickles

Cam Pickles (left) and Hayden McCullough

Another member of the team, 20 year old Cam Pickles has nearly finished his apprenticeship through MITO, for his National Certificate in Automotive Heavy Engineering (Agricultural Equipment) (Level 3 and 4). This year he has left the comfort of the workshop to head out to more jobs in the community. “I really enjoy getting out to the farms, seeing the customers and repairing their machinery, it adds great variety to my role,” said Cam. He mainly fixes tractors, and from time to time encounters some quite old single cylinder tractors, adding to the variety.

Following high school, Cam did a pre-trade course at Otago Polytechnic and came to Otago Farm Machinery for work experience. He was offered an apprenticeship and like Hayden, hasn’t looked back. He’s been there 3½ years, loves what he does and recommends apprenticeships to others. “It’s great to have a trade behind you, it gives you good opportunities,” said Cam. Hayden agrees, “I definitely recommend apprenticeships to others. After a few years working they have a national qualification and life skills, from managing work and study. They’ve had the benefit of an income, not a student loan. My advice is to knuckle down, set realistic goals and you will achieve a lot”. And the busy father of four knows what he’s talking about, with twins born in the early stages of his apprenticeship!  

When they’re not out assisting Otago farmers with their heavy machinery, you’ll find Hayden fishing with his children or cheering them on at weekend sport, while Cam enjoys hunting and has recently taken up surfing – he may even try out the Otago coast mid-winter! Wherever you find them, these farm machine specialists simply love what they do. 

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