February 21, 2024

Foundation bridging the skill gaps with much needed grant funding

With a national shortage of over 1,000 automotive repair tradespeople,  New Zealand Collision Repair Association’s recent apprenticeship grants are helping small businesses to attract and keep people in the industry. New Zealand Collision Repair were able to provide these opportunities to apprentices after receiving grant funding from the Inspiring Futures Foundation.

Trinity Clegg (20) from Southern Lakes Panel Beating Ltd in Wanaka is one of six apprentices benefiting from the new grants provided by  New Zealand Collison Repair. “The funding gave me a massive confidence boost, especially as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

“Growing up, I always wanted to work on cars but so many people in my life told me that girls shouldn’t do that. Receiving this funding made me feel appreciated and reassured, like yes, I can do this. I’d love to see more women getting into the panel and paint industry.”

For Stewart Gibb, General Manager of New Zealand Collision Repair, he calls the country’s skills shortage ‘severe’. "We’re having to look overseas for skilled workers when we have people here who just need a bit of support to be able to enter the industry. Our long-term goal is to train more New Zealanders from all walks of life, and this Funding is an important step towards making that path more accessible."

As new technology helps and disrupts the industry’s usual ways of working, Gibb says funding is important for improving skill diversity and local businesses’ economic health. “We are seeing the benefit of apprentices learning a wide set of skills so that they can work across different areas of the repair business. Funding to train up good, multi-skilled staff will help sustain many small-medium sized businesses and allow them to provide a competitive edge."

Enabled by a grant from the Foundation, New Zealand Collision Repair has helped various businesses train and retain apprentices, covering their MITO Te Pūkenga fees, and includes hands-on mentoring by industry expert Rick Lunn from Smart Trade Solutions Limited.

”I think the funding combined with the mentorship helps to keep people in the profession,” adds Clegg. “When you’re younger, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when things get hard and it makes you want to throw in the towel. However, to know that you’ve got that help and support, you’ve got all the motivation you need to keep trying. They’re giving us a huge leg up so we can succeed.”

The Inspiring Futures Foundation isn’t limiting its fundings to the automotive industry alone -with grant opportunities also available to businesses involved in transport & logistics, drilling, gas, mining and quarrying industries, among others. The next round of grant applications opens on 1 March 2024. For more information about applying for funding visit www.inspiringfutures.nz