Primed to Perform

“I wanted to be out there doing it and training on the job.”

23 year old MITO learner, Toni McRae, always wanted to work in a trade. The allure of working with her hands and being active, rather than being stuck behind a desk all day, was too strong to ignore.

However, Toni’s original calling didn’t pull her towards the automotive industry. Instead, she enrolled in a joinery pre-trade course after she finished school but found it difficult to find a job. Fortunately, she found part-time work at Fleet Imaging Southland Ltd, Invercargill, discovered a love for refinishing and is now busy completing her National Certificate in Motor Industry (Automotive Body) (Levels 3 and 4) with strand in Refinishing.

I’m learning new skills, finding out how things work and then I get to implement it. And getting paid while I learn is definitely a big bonus!

“I started off as a part-time employee and absolutely loved it! So, when someone left I grabbed the opportunity to progress into full time work and begin my apprenticeship,” says Toni. Owner-operator Warren Kett was keen to give her a shot. “I saw the potential in Toni – she was very motivated, hardworking and had a real enthusiasm to come to work and do the job,” he says. “She’s coming along in leaps and bounds and I’m really happy with how she’s progressing in her work. Plus, having someone who is learning new skills and knowledge and contributing to the workplace, is always going to be beneficial to a business.”Toni McRae

Toni quickly saw the benefits of on-the-job training. “You really start to understand things more,” she says. “I’m learning new skills, finding out how things work and then I get to implement it. And getting paid while I learn is definitely a big bonus!”

While she enjoys most aspects of her role, Toni particularly relishes painting. “Your attention to detail has to be high throughout the process – it comes down to the fact that if your preparation isn’t good, then the painting won’t be any good either, so you really need to know what you’re doing to get a nice quality finish. We can get buses, cars, insurance jobs – all sorts through the shop, but I particularly like working on the Stabicraft boats. We don’t get them that often so it’s a nice challenge for me every now and then.”

Toni says she’s finding the training programmes relatively easy but notes she has ample support from both her MITO Industry Training Advisor Keri Youngman, and her supervisor. “Warren’s great – anytime I need help with anything I can just ask him. He’s always there to give me a hand if I ever need it but he encourages me to try and work it out for myself first. Once I know how though, he has confidence in my skills to just leave me to it.”

With several of her friends also learning a trade, Toni thinks a qualification is the best way to progress her career. “If I hadn’t started my National Certificate, I’d probably just be doing the basics at work. Instead, I’m getting recognised for my skills, knowledge and experience in the industry over the last four years. I can’t wait to be qualified!”

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