Connected to a future in energy

Francesca Emms Energy, News, Schools/Gateway

When Te Meihana Williams was thinking about what he wanted to do after leaving school, the Connexis Gateway programme gave him the chance to find out what a job in the energy sector might be like, before leaving school.

In his last year at Waitaki Boys High School in North Otago, Te Meihana, now 18, participated in the Gateway Programme with local electrical lines company Network Waitaki, where he now works full-time as an apprentice line mechanic. It’s a job he loves, but may not have discovered without the opportunity to try it out through Gateway.

“Being a line mechanic wasn’t a job I would have thought about without the chance to try it while I was at school,” Te Meihana says. “It wasn’t a job I really knew anything about, but it appealed to me straight away. It’s so different to any other job out there. I love it.”

Te Meihana’s role as an apprentice is to “really just help out my crew with anything that needs doing” and he says he has been well supported through Gateway and now in his apprenticeship by the team at Network Waitaki. “Everybody has been patient and they’ve taught me a lot already. I’m excited to keep going.”

Network Waitaki Field Services Manager Nathan Cunningham says Gateway is an extremely useful programme as it helps the company get an idea of just how well potential apprentices might cope with different aspects of the job.

“It’s a job with some challenges like working outdoors in all weathers, and at heights. Gateway means we get to see these teenagers working in the company and get some insight into how they will adapt to what the job is.”

Nathan says Te Meihana attracted great reports back from his supervisors right from the start of his Gateway programme, saying he was keen, ready to learn and wanted to make the most of the opportunity. When his Gateway period ended the company offered Te Meihana temporary school holiday work before hiring him in their next apprenticeship intake in mid-January 2023.

As for Te Meihana, he urges other students to give the Gateway programme a try if they can. “It gives you the chance to try something different you might not have heard about before.”