Tell us a bit about yourself, Umar.
I was born and raised in Central Auckland. My father is Fijian/Indian from Fiji and my mother comes from Samoa. I’ve got a real passion for working with people and have spent my whole career in customer service, first at Telecom, then CourierPost. I joined the NZ Welding School ten months ago, and am based at the totally awesome brand-new Aspire2 Trades campus.

Tell us about the new campus.
To be working in a brand-new building creates such a great vibe. The campus has brand-new everything – no worn-out tools or machines for our students!

Everything here is state-of-the-art, from the welders to the ventilation systems to the machinery we use. By getting their hands on all this exciting new equipment, our students are getting the best possible kick-start to their careers.

What’s your typical day?
My job involves a little of everything – every day is a new challenge and you never quite know what it will throw at you. One minute I’ll be out recruiting students, then I’ll be back in the office doing enrolments, manning the Facebook page and looking after all our website inquiries. I also spend time engaging with the students in workshops, putting together reports, taking students to job interviews and helping out with pastoral care – that’s anything outside of school that our students might need help with, like transport and health issues.

I try to get to know every student when they come in, and find out what their story is. We work hard to break down any barriers between staff and students.

What can a new student expect during their first week at Aspire2 Trades?
They can expect to learn a lot and be amazed! It’s natural to feel a bit nervous, but we quickly get new students engaged with the tutors, staff and their classmates so they settle in quickly.

A big problem for any student stems from living on a student income and getting a student loan sorted. Our team helps students through the StudyLink process and ensures they get all they are eligible for.

What sets Aspire2 Trades apart from other trades training providers?
Where do I begin? Not only are we centrally located and close to major motorways and public transport, but we also help students get to and from class with a shuttle that runs between the campus and Homai and Manukau train stations. In the mornings, students can come in and have their breakfast on site as we provide free toast and cereal. They also have access to free wi-fi so they don’t have to use up their own data. So straight off the bat, that’s three big money savers for students in terms of transport, food and internet access.

As part of their course fees, students get Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and all the stationery they need. We also offer added extras for some courses, such as a Site Safe Passport (or equivalent), Working from Heights Certificate (or equivalent), First Aid Certificate and Industry Standard Tickets. We know how important it is to employers that students can drive, so we even help our students gain their driver’s licence, by covering the costs of four theory tests and one practical test.

Employment is a big focus at Aspire2 Trades. We work closely with sister company Aspire2 Work to help our graduates find great jobs or apprenticeships after they complete their training.

Do you think learning a trade is a smart choice?
Auckland is expanding. Everywhere you look there new buildings under construction. The rail network is expanding at an amazing rate; the Auckland Airport has just kicked off a 30-year project to expand the Airport Oaks area; and homes are going up everywhere trying to keep up with the housing shortage. There is just so much demand for tradies in NZ – and because of this demand, skilled tradies are now commanding higher rates than ever before.

There has never been a better time to be a tradie in Auckland.