Bush Road Panelbeaters, part of the Shield Bros Group which owns six panel beating workshops on Auckland’s North Shore, is celebrating success twice over after two of its apprentice technicians were named Top Apprentice of the Year at the IAG Trades Scholarship Programme Awards in September. 20-year-old Cassidy Repia was named 2017 IAG Top Apprentice of the Year in Refinishing and Jordan Lindsay-Smith, 23, was named the 2017 IAG Top Apprentice of the Year in Collision Repair. 

The IAG Trades scholarship programme, supported by MITO, aims to boost talent and strengthen the skill base of key industries by supporting a number of new apprentices through their apprenticeship. Cassidy and Jordan were selected from the 2016 intake of scholarship apprentices and each took home a top of the line dustless sander and vacuum worth $1500 courtesy of Wyatt Machine Tools.

John O'Rourke, IAG Motor Assessing Performance Manager, says “The IAG purpose of ‘We Help to Make Your World a Safer Place’ resonates with our commitment to the collision repair industry to have qualified trades people providing quality repairs, ensuring people are safe on the road. Working in partnership with MITO, we are proud to help our scholarship apprentices achieve their goals.”

Both Jordan and Cassidy were chosen due to their extraordinary work ethic and impressive determination in regards to their apprenticeship over the past year. In fact, Cassidy completed over three times the amount of credits expected and Jordan, who has very nearly qualified, completed over 75% of his entire apprenticeship in just 12 months – an astounding achievement.

“Receiving this award is a huge honour for me,” says Jordan, “and to be recognised this way really makes me feel like I have earned my qualification.” Cassidy agrees. “It’s amazing to receive the award and the fact that Jordan and I were named Apprentices of the Year together was pretty awesome. We like to push each other competitively but always help one another too and I know we both put in the hard yards this year to get here.”

Bush Road Panelbeaters Manager, Lewis Rawiri, is elated for the two top technicians. “It’s a wonderful achievement for both of them and it’s great for the business too. I know they both work very hard at their apprenticeships. They’re very motivated – always striving to learn more and ready to undertake whatever tasks are given to them. We are very proud of their efforts and the fact they have been recognised in this way.”

Originally working in retail, which wasn’t exciting enough for her, Cassidy never had much to do with cars before joining the collision repair industry. But with a love of art and being creative, she jumped at the chance when offered a refinishing apprenticeship - and knows she made the right choice completing a trade. “I think there’s a lot of pressure for people my age to go to university,” says Cassidy. “But doing a trade, you get paid while you work, you don’t have a massive student loan afterwards and you gain a national qualification which can set you up for life.”

Jordan shares the sentiment. “I’m a firm believer in getting a trade, as the benefits are obvious. I was always into cars when I was younger but never had any real skills with them. After school I was a bit lost before someone suggested I try a pre-trade course to see if I liked it – and I’ve never looked back! Getting qualified through MITO will be one of my biggest achievements so far and I consider myself privileged to be doing a trade.”

But Jordan isn’t about to rest on his laurels and once qualified, he wants to continue to hone his collision repair skills. “Then I’d like to continue to climb the ranks to foreman and eventually management. Perhaps one day even own my own repair shop – that’s the long-term plan!”

Cassidy’s aspirations for her career will likely see her progress into airbrushing once she has completed her qualification. “I’d love to further my skills with that as it really resonates with my love of art and means an even more creative aspect to my job!”

Whatever the future may hold, these apprentices of the year are sure to make their mark on the industry.

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