Did you know, Hamilton based Fairview Educational Services (FEDS) has trained over 2000 students for careers in the motor industry since 1998?
As part of one of the leading Ford and Mazda dealerships in New Zealand, FEDS provides a range of automotive courses at Levels 2 and 3, including the NZ Certificate in Automotive Engineering. A range of short courses are also available.
FEDS students gain first hand experience of the day to day operations at a leading dealership with the practical training taking place at Fairview Motors Ltd in their fully-equipped modern workshop.
Kyle Marshall grew up working on cars and eventually decided to put his passion to work and become an Automotive Technician. We spoke with him about what it’s like being an apprentice at Fairview Motors…
Automotive Technician apprentice
Top Career Tip
“The best career advice I’ve ever been given wasn’t advice, it was the example of my parents.
My Mum and Dad both rolemodelled to me what hard work looks like. This influenced my work ethic and the way I apply myself to everything I do.”
A chat with Kyle about his role
FEDS Automotive Technician Apprentice
(Certificate Automotive Engineering Level 4)
What do you do at work?
At the moment I am servicing vehicles and learning from the other technicians who are qualified and have been qualified for 20 or so years. I am picking up skills and tips from them. I like working with my hands and staying busy throughout the day. Being busy makes the day go faster, and the work environment is enjoyable to be in.
What are some skills you've learnt on the job?
- Diagnostic skills
- How to think on your feet
- Problem solving
- Assessing and servicing vehicles
What got you interested in this career path?
I grew up with my Dad working on cars and stuff. I originally had other career aspirations and worked for different companies, but needed a qualification. It took applying two times and explaining my story and interest to eventually land a job here. I just wanted more job security… it’s a good qualification to have [behind your name] as it can land you a job just about anywhere.
Useful school subjects + other quals
I never really applied myself to school and could’ve definitely done a lot better. I did technical drawings which really interested me along with woodwork and metalwork – quite practical subjects over theory-based subjects. I think it’s quite a traditional approach to believe that you can only get a good career through academic subjects at school. These practical subjects had an influence on what I do here due to the hands-on skills.
The work my Dad used to do and how we got brought up influenced me more… being outside and building stuff. My Dad worked on his own cars so we were always around that. We grew up on bicycles and motorbikes. My Dad qualified as a mechanic when he was quite young and then he went into a different industry, still mechanical, but went into elevators and escalators. I’ve always been around it so it makes it easier to do.
I’m still busy with my Level 4 and hoping to be done at the end of this year if possible. It’s a mix of hands-on work and theory. You work at your own pace, depending on how long it takes you to do it. I got the theory done and out of the way because I don’t enjoy it, so it’s just the practical stuff I have left to do now.
What sort of person do you need to be for this work?
I think you just have to be openminded really. There’s a lot to learn and I think anyone can be taught this stuff, you’ve just got to be willing to get stuck in. Even the older guys who have been here for years will say that they’re always learning stuff everyday. So if you just come into it with the right mindset and attitude.
I think there’s a lot of stigma around young people just not being interested and not wanting to work hard. I think if you come in with the right mindset, then people will be more willing to teach you stuff. It makes a big difference when they can see that you’re actually paying attention and want to work. Being eager to get into things is also good, as it affects how you feel about the day.
What have you learnt on the job?
It’s different but once you’re in it, the environment becomes familiar. I think cars are often deemed as scary or are misunderstood by people. Even just opening the bonnet you don’t know what you’re looking at. But over time you begin to pick up on things easily. It’s easy enough stuff to learn.
A lot of it has been learning how to do things the correct way. When you’re doing it at home as a hobby, you don’t always have the right tools and might take shortcuts. That’s been the biggest thing I’ve learnt. Also learning the reasons why we do the things we do – certain protocals and practices. Before now if I had a job to do I would’ve just done it without much thought. Now I have a lot more purpose and confidence in what I do – I’m not second guessing myself all the time. Fixing cars definitely makes me feel capable and assured that I can do hard things.
What do you wish you knew when you left school?
I wish I knew back then that although school gives you a good foundation of the basics, many of the things that were important to me then didn’t matter once I left. There are many different pathways and school is just one of them. Being able to have more free reign when you’re older is a bonus. You can learn many life-skills as you get older.
What advice would you give someone deciding on their career?
We get told quite a lot to just make sure you do what you love and I’ve always found that advice to not always be very practical. There are a range of jobs in our society, and we need a range of people to fulfill each role. When looking into careers it’s a balance of what’s practical for you AND what you love. If you’ve got to have a job to support the life you want to live, get stuck in and do it.
Don’t pin all your hopes on a high-flying career. It’s okay to be content with simply having a job as the means to support the life you want to live. I think the world needs hard workers and blue-collared people. Having a work-life balance is important when exploring a career. You’ve got be able to work hard and just have fun after.
What do you want to do in the future?
Being qualified was the big thing for me. I just really wanted something in my name that I could fall back on if I ever needed to. I kind of want to be able to do whatever I want to do. For example, if I wanted to move to another country and live a life that would support that dream. I just want to be happy and do what I need to do to achieve that. I got tired of saying “one day I’m gonna do this”. One day I just woke up and decided I was going to start something. Moving forward is important, it’s easy to just stay still and get stuck and lose momentum.
we asked kyle a few more questions about working at FEDS…
How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
It comes down to what you do really. I try to give my all at work and do what I need to do, and fulfill my responsibilities at home. I’m a people person so I’d much rather enjoy time with family and friends when I can rather than going out and doing activities. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Having a bbq with a few mates is good enough.
I have struggled with maintaining a balance in the past but what helps on those long days is getting into a rhythm at work. Finding joy in what you do – getting along with the people, satisfaction after finishing a task – makes work more enjoyable. It’s all worth it in the end.
What qualities make a good candidate for your work?
Come into it wanting to learn and to work. It’s work, you’re definitely gonna be working and not standing around! There’s a lot to learn and it can be daunting with how much to do, but if you come in with the right attitude you’ll find your footing in no time.
Remember that these are good life skills to have. You don’t have to stay in this job forever. At least if your car breaks down, you’ll be able to fix it!
What do you love about your job?
The people. It’s a good overall mix of people. It’s a happy place to work in, and enjoying who I work with makes a huge difference. You could have a pretty bad job but if the people around make it fun, that’s what makes it. Also knowing the people I do here is good word of mouth and a good opportunity for networking.
A Day in the Life
There is a bit of schedule that is dependent on your role. For example senior techs get a bigger range of job types. As an apprentice, we tend to get some of the more basic work, and slowly more variety is introduced. Day to day I mostly get services, which is a good foundation to work from. Diagnostic work is integrated as you gain more experience.
Start work. Sign in and the workshop controller will give me a task to do. The workshop controller is the person who hands out different jobs to the different techs – decides who’s doing what for the day.
Take a quick break!
Back to work.
Back in the workshop.
Take a 15 minute break then back in the shop.
Head home for the day.
A chat with nathan stevenson – the employer
What do you look for in a young person?
We look for somebody who’s keen with the right attitude. Someone who has put a bit more thought into what they’re actually doing and how they’re going to go about it. You need to have a bit of foreplanning as to how you’re going to get yourself through the apprenticeship and stuff so a keen “go get-em” attitude is the sort of thing we look for. People that are asking the right questions. People that are hands on and want to be involved.
The ones we sort of stay away from are people who stand back and who are not so keen to get involved. We learn a lot from the girls and guys who come along on the work experience course. That’s the time to really impress the employer as the employer’s watching really closely to see what sort of behaviour. You get a very different mix between the young people who are hands on, involved, and wanna be working on the vehicle compared to the other side of people who are standing back and don’t want to get their hands dirty. A bit of confidence in yourself and what you’re doing is key. You gotta have a bit of confidence and take pride in what you do.
Obviously we’ve been around for a long time, 60 years in business, and we have a lot of people around who have been around here for a long time. This really goes to show what type of business we have. We have a lot of long-stayers, people who have been here previously for 40 years. A lot of people have made their whole career here at Fairviews. There’s a wide range of opportunity and different departments and different ways/career paths to go – you can really get stuck in and advance your career that way. Work here isn’t dead-end. You can always advance forwards. It’s all about attitude and about what you want to do/achieve.
Why is manufacturing, engineering and logistics a great sector?
It creates a good career and you’ve always got something to fall back on. Get a trade behind you. It’s good to have that solid foundation behind you because you can always come back to that solid foundation if things change. You can always come back to this work, jump on the tools, and get stuck in. Vehicles are the second biggest purchase you’ll do – house first, then of course vehicles. Vehicles are essential so there will always be a need. Need to be able to get groceries, commute to work, do errands, and so on. There’s a guaranteed future here.
- Pre-trade – gives you a massive leg up into your apprenticeship quicker.
- Most employers are looking for somebody who has come through some educational system.
- School is a good way to get into repetition and routine. Always looking for people who are reliable and will turn up on time.
“A massive thing is communication. Whether it’s good or bad, always communicate with your boss. Let them know what’s going on is a huge thing. Can pick this up from schooling. It sounds small, but it goes a long way and builds respect and trust. Gotta have respect and trust between both parties – the employer and the employee.”
FEDS Full time courses
FEDS provides full time pre-trade automotive training on site at Fairview Motors for students that want to pursue careers within the motor industry.
FEDS is the only provider of automotive training within the Waikato that is based at a franchise dealership.
All courses include both theory and practical components. The practical training takes place in a fully equipped dedicated workshop while the theory components are delivered in a classroom. Class sizes are limited to 15 to ensure students receive individual support and guidance. The team of FEDS tutors are all highly experienced and qualified and are passionate about the industry.
Useful School Subjects
- Metal tech
- Hard materials – anything that gives you a chance to get familiar with the tools
- Enjoy hands on work
- Take initiative
- Like cars!
- Have a good work ethic