Country’s top electrical supply trainees celebrated

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Wellington 25 September 2023:  Abbey Meiritz Reid’s passion for the electrical supply industry and technical skills involved in her work has seen her named New Zealand Trainee of the Year for 2023, despite being less than two years into her career.

Abbey, who has been a trainee electrical fitter with Connetics in Christchurch since the start of 2022, has been named overall Trainee of the year at the annual Connexis | Te Pūkenga Excellence Awards. She was also named Distribution Trainee of the Year.

Each year, the Excellence Awards recognise the best and brightest trainees working in electrical supply and telecommunications infrastructure roles.

In nominating Abbey for the Excellence Awards, Connetics General Manager – Canterbury Operations Graham Fairbrass described Abbey as “an exceptional young woman with a passion for the electrical industry rarely seen in someone so young”.

Fairbrass said Abbey’s intellectual abilities in maths and the sciences were a perfect match for her chosen field, and her natural leadership skills were already having a positive impact across her team.

“When working with other, more junior apprentices, Abbey is quick to share her learned knowledge and assist wherever possible. Abbey’s enthusiasm, maturity, and commitment to continuous growth make her an asset to the electrical supply industry.

“Despite being in the early stages of her apprenticeship, Abbey has already made a remarkable impact, both within Connetics and in inspiring the next generation of electrical professionals,” Fairbrass said.

The Connexis Excellence Awards are a high point of Annual Connection, a three-day celebration of the skills and capability found in New Zealand’s Electricity Supply Industry workforce. Annual Connections, took place this year in Invercargill, run by Connexis I Te Pūkenga, with 2023 event sponsor PowerNet.

Another highlight of the event are the skills-based competitions between line mechanic crews and cable jointers from around the country. Crews and individuals pit their skills against each other, displaying the latest industry best practice and technological innovation.

Alex Chandler from Connetics was named top cable jointer, while the crew from The Lines Company took out the top spot in the line mechanic competition. Delta from Dunedin placed second and NetCon from Timaru placed third.

Other winners included: Generation Trainee of the Year Ela Jones, from Genesis Energy Lake Tekapo; Transmission Trainee of the Year Joshua Cox from Omexom in Otemata; and Telecommunications Trainee of the Year, Valantina Adam from Downer in Wellington. The award for Contribution to Investing in Youth Trainees went to Robbie Skerten from MainPower Rangiora.

Connexis l Te Pūkenga executive director Kaarin Gaukrodger says between the awards and the competitions, Annual Connection offers a chance to show off industry best practice as well as celebrate the skills and talent of the future leaders of New Zealand’s infrastructure workforce.

“It’s important to showcase the skills and success of these trainees. It not only recognises the effort and commitment they’ve put in, it helps shine a light on the importance of vocational training and what the infrastructure sector can offer in terms of a successful career path.”

Recognising the skills and commitment of infrastructure trainees and crews feels particularly important in a year when they have often been on the frontlines of keeping communities connected through devastating weather events.

“Typically, the kind of work they’re doing is often in the backcountry, and at odd hours, therefore a lot of their vital work goes unseen so Annual Connection gives them an amazing opportunity to demonstrate what they know.”

Gaukrodger adds Connexis is thrilled to have Southland’s PowerNet on board as sponsor this year. “We love taking Annual Connection to the regions and having the event in Invercargill this year has been a fantastic opportunity to take a closer look at the industry in Southland and understand it’s unique challenges and opportunities.”

PowerNet CEO Jason Franklin says the company is thrilled with the success of this year’s Annual Connection.

“It’s been our privilege to host this year’s event and be a part of shining a light on the incredible skill represented in our industry.

“Hosting a national event like Annual Connection has also been a perfect opportunity to showcase Southland, our fantastic lifestyle and the important part our electrical supply industry plays in keeping the region connected.”