Yesterday marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter for 73 of Auckland’s freshest tradies – and the first birthday of Wiri-based trades training school, Aspire2 Trades.

Aspiring forklift drivers, painters, welders and infrastructure workers packed out the Aspire2 Trades campus last night, celebrating their successful graduation from a range of Level 2, 3 and 4 trades programmes. Now poised to forge successful careers in the industry, graduates were treated to not only the recognition they deserved, but also plenty of inspiration.

Guest speaker John Clark shared his personal journey – a transformation from violence and time behind bars, to the success he currently enjoys as a respected foreman at Fulton Hogan. He encouraged graduates to keep learning and keep striving to be the best they could be.

“I am not proud of what I did in my past, but I had to learn to let that go in order to become the man I am now,” he said.

“You all have a choice. It doesn’t matter what you are, who you are, or how you were brought up, at the end of the day you are the ones here graduating tonight.”

John said the Solomon Group had been pivotal in his success, supporting him through his Infrastructure Trades studies so that he could achieve his qualifications and find a great job.

“Without those tickets you can’t get into the workforce. The Solomon Group was that stepping stone I needed.”

Last night was the first time the Solomon Group has been part of a graduation ceremony at Aspire2 Trades, and Brand and Content Manager Soteria Fetalaiga (Sote) said the occasion marked the start of a new partnership between the two education providers.

“Aspire2 Trades and the Solomon Group are joining forces to support the community into better trades pathways,” said Sote. “Solomon Group’s Level 2 and 3 Infrastructure Trades programmes are great lead-ins to the variety of trades training on offer at Aspire2 Trades. This partnership will empower our community and show them that there are alternative education pathways outside of mainstream education.”

Graduating students were clearly delighted at their achievements and were well supported by cheers and claps from tutors, classmates, whanau and friends. Eighteen year old Narea Anderson graduated with her Level 3 and 4 welding qualifications and already has a good job as a MIG welder for Merton Equipment.

“At first I was a bit worried about studying welding because it’s a very male dominated industry but the guys here are cool – everyone motivates each other and supports each other, and the tutors are awesome,” she said. Narea’s brother Creed was also graduating with his Level 3 welding qualification and has been snapped up by the same employer.

“I really enjoyed the course, love my job and feel really proud of what I have achieved,” he added.

And rightly so.

As welding tutor Elvis Moodley pointed out during his speech: “This place is a platform, a stepping stone into your future. While studying with us, you have learnt to persevere and not give up. Take that with you when you go out into the workforce and show the world what you are made of.  Don’t look back. There are many more good things to come your way.”

Special awards went to the following students:

Career Preparation for Engineering Trades (Level 3)

February intake:

Top Student – Insure Fatai

Best Attitude – Taumaia Kulu

March intake:

Top Student – Vili Ngoue

Best Attitude – Paki Pera

April intake:

Top Student – Viliami Fotofili

Best Attitude – Kyle Shaw

Certificate in Advanced Welding (Level 4)

Top Student – Stuart Money

Best Attitude – Narea Anderson

Career Preparation for Specialised Welding (Level 4)

February intake:

Top Student – Sione Palu

Best Attitude – Kurapai Nganu

March intake:

Top Student – Thomas Winter

Best Attitude – Romia

April intake:

Top Student – Lameko

NZ Certificate in Construction Trades Skills (Level 3) (Painting)

February intake:

Top Student – Rebecca Tavai

Best Attitude – Nenase Nau

April intake:

Top Student – Kwonk-Keung (Charles) Ching

Best Attitude – Stacy Lightfoot

Career Preparation for Trades Support (Level 3) (Forklift)

February intake:

Top Student – Joon Won

Best Attitude – Tommy Hohua

April intake:

Top Student – Taylor Fleetwood

Best Attitude – Michelle Katipa

Infrastucture Trades (Level 2)

Top Students:

Materea Tilly Tuitupou

Sarah Olson