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Two Bright Sparks Win Top Titles In This Year’s Apprentice Challenge

Sam Riordan, 22, and Matthew Van Der Wel, 20, and, have won the 2021 Master Electrician's Apprentice Challenge, the country’s annual competition for electrical trainees.

Sam, who lives in Hamilton, won the Industrial division. He is being trained by Kiwi Control Systems. Matthew, from Te Awamutu, won the Domestic and Commercial division. He is being trained by Withers Electrical

“These bright sparks were the clear winners in the face of strong competition involving 140 apprentices from across New Zealand, Auckland excepted,” says Mathew Lawrence, the National Operations Manager of Master Electricians.

Master Electricians decided to cut the finals – scheduled for 18 and 19 November in Wellington – given the current Covid-related restrictions, and likelihood that three of the 10 finalists (those based in Waikato) would be unable to take part.

“Instead, we opted to choose our winners from the finalists, based on their scores from the preliminary rounds held in 11 centres that started in Invercargill on 21 July and wrapped up in Hamilton on 1 October,” says Mathew.

“Unfortunately, Auckland apprentices missed out completely this year, because of Covid and related restrictions.”

These rounds focused on the practical, with apprentices having to complete four one-hour modules reflecting the various issues an apprentice might face on the job.

“Matthew and Sam did exceptionally well in their rounds, scoring the highest marks in their respective divisions.”

Both will receive prize packs from provided by Milwaukee Power Tools and Felo tools. Certificates will be sent to the eight other finalists.

The challenge is proving a boon for employers as well as their apprentices.

“Employers increasingly see the challenge as a valuable learning and development opportunity for their apprentices and they get to enjoy the reflected glory if any of their apprentices hit the high spots,” says Mathew.

The challenge, which is in its 20th year, also aims promote the benefits of electrical apprenticeships and recognise excellence, quality and innovation in the industry.

“Hopefully, the impact of widespread vaccinations on the spread of Covid, will enable all those apprentices who want to, to take part in the challenge next year.”

About 5000 electrical apprentices currently work in New Zealand, but many more are needed to meet the growing demand for electricians.

The 20th Master Electricians Apprentice of the Year Challenge is sponsored by ABB, etco, Firstflex, felo, Ideal Electrical, J. A. Russell Ltd, Legrand, Marley, Mechanical Support Systems, Milwaukee, NHP, Nova Energy, Rockwell Automation, and the Skills Consulting Group.

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