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Josh Holliday-Brown, a Toi Ohomai automotive apprentice has won a $1,200 scholarship from the MTA CREDIT: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

Toi Ohomai students win MTA automotive scholarships
Wednesday 11 October 2017, 10:00AM
By Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology


Three managed apprentices from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology are financially better off after winning scholarships last month from the Motor Trade Association to help pay their fees.

Neo Salenga from Katikati, Sam Morgan from Rotorua and Josh Holliday-Brown (pictured) from Papamoa were among 32 automotive engineering apprentices throughout the country to receive the inaugural MTA100 Scholarships, set up this year to mark the MTA’s centenary. 

The young men, who are all studying through Toi Ohomai while working in full-time apprenticeships, will receive up to $1200 per year for three years of study. They were chosen from a pool of 109 scholarship applicants.

Toi Ohomai’s Automotive Group Leader Sean Squires is delighted the students have received this recognition from the MTA and says they are all excellent candidates. 

“They’ve got a positive attitude and are motivated to get ahead, as well as being mechanically minded so they’re perfect for this trade. These guys will end up becoming fully qualified which is just what this industry needs.

“We’ve got a real skill shortage and everyone is crying out for apprentices. Starting and retaining good people in the trade is critical so we’re really keen to see this kind of thing continue.”

Josh Holliday-Brown was so keen to get into the automotive industry he started sweeping floors at Papamoa Auto Service Centre while still at school. He completed a full-time entry-level (level 2) course with Toi Ohomai last year and, now 19, started his apprenticeship this year. He says the scholarship will definitely make the study easier.

“I was stoked to feel like my hard work got recognised. It means I can put more money into buying more tools and going on more courses – because I always want to keep learning with this trade. And with the MTA backing I’ve got more motivation because I want to live up to the potential that they see in me.”

As well as assisting with general repairs, servicing and WOFs, Josh – with his tinkering mind – is becoming more and interested in the diagnostics side of automotive engineering.

“I really like figuring things out, so particularly enjoy the diagnostics side. The modern cars we’re seeing now, like hybrids and electric vehicles, require a specific skill. It’s a new thing to understand but it always comes back to the basics.”

Neo, Sam and Josh complete their practical training with their employer while submitting online assignments to prove and document their practical work. Toi Ohomai manages the students’ apprenticeships and tutors visit monthly to mentor and provide learning support. Optional night classes run for students who want additional face-to-face assistance.

Sean Squires hopes the scholarships will encourage more young men and women into apprenticeships and says almost all the students who continue with their Toi Ohomai training find employment. Employers are always seeking our good students, he says. 

“Our trade is becoming much more technical these days because it’s more of a diagnostic technician role rather than the greasy work it used to be.” The cleaner, more technical diagnostic work suits a wider range of people, he says.

MTA Regional Coordinator for Eastland and Kaimai Annie van Wyk says as well as helping students financially, the MTA100 Scholarships are designed to encourage MTA members to take on apprentices to help boost the workforce by “growing our own talent”. Employers receive $960 for the first year of training and $300 the second to help cover the costs of having an apprentice. 

“We were looking for motivated people, who had a strong practical streak, were good communicators and computer savvy. Most of all we looked for passion,” says Annie. 

“Neo, Sam and Josh were all passionate about cars from a young age and that’s something you can’t extinguish. We want to encourage people like that in the industry because they are the future leaders; our new generation of qualified professionals for the next generation of vehicles.”

Neo, Sam and Josh have no doubt they’re in the right industry and would encourage anyone into cars and vehicles to “just go for it” if that’s their passion.

“I would recommend a trade over going to uni any day,” says Josh. It’s hands-on work that’s getting you a job, which is better than sitting in a classroom every day. You get to use your skills every day and I really like that.”

Toi Ohomai – also an MTA member – is the only technical institute in the country to operate a commercial automotive workshop.

For more information about Toi Ohomai, please visit our website.