Local apprentice wins top award

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Less than a year after leaving Nayland College, Howie Weeden has been awarded an apprentice of the year award.

Howie, 19, was always keen to get a job working with wood so when he joined Gateway programme at Nayland College he pointed out Orange Joinery as a possible local business for him to do work experience.

A year later he was a full time apprentice and a year after that, an award winner.

Howie says he couldn’t be happier. “I really enjoy my job, I’m really happy to be here.”

Howie entered the Gateway programme for his Year 13 year. He says he initially thought it was for the “dropouts” but says it’s not at all and it’s given him a career.

After Orange Joinery agreed to take him on for one day a week while he studied the other four days, Howie says he quickly found the job to his liking.

“The first day I thought, ‘oh I’ll never get anything out of this’ [timber joinery manager] John [Andrew] had to do it for me, pretty much. But the days went real quick, it was great. I enjoyed it.”

After just a month John says he knew Howie had what it took to be a good employee and at the end of the year offered him a job as a labourer, which quickly turned into an apprenticeship. He says the Gateway programme has worked well for them. “I think it’s a great idea, I really do. Attitude was a big thing and he has the right attitude. He also listens and asks questions when needed to and he has a natural talent as well,” he says.

Howie says he always wanted a job working with wood. “I didn’t narrow it down to joinery specifically but anything with wood I was keen. My old man works at Carter’s so since I was a kid we’ve been building stuff in the holidays so that’s where it comes from.”

Howie was announced as the apprentice of the year in the Canterbury and Waitaki region for all first year students at CPIT, where Howie does his block course papers. John says the whole joinery team at Orange help Howie and he works on kitchens, windows and stairs.