Learning on the job beats university study for this engineer

September 11, 2022

Karthikeya Jithendra Babu had his future learning mapped out. After finishing school he would attend Waikato University to study mechanical engineering with a scholarship he had just been awarded. However, a Gateway programme in his final year at Hillcrest High changed that.

“As part of the Gateway programme I would volunteer one day a week with PFS Engineering and also worked there during the school holidays. I was having a casual chat with the General Manager one day and he shared his story on how he started as a tradesman doing an apprenticeship and became the GM for a highly reputable engineering company. It made me think.

I did some research online and decided to do an engineering apprenticeship instead of going to university. And gaining real work experience while you earn and learn has just been amazing!” says Karthikeya.

Karthikeya says he’s “100 percent sure” he made the right decision to embark on a Light Fabrication apprenticeship at PFS and he’s now in his second year. He even has friends who have started apprenticeships after completing their university degrees. He says the ‘earn and learn’ model of workplace training has great appeal.

“The more I learn, the more I earn. It’s as simple as that. I’ve made the right choice doing an apprenticeship – I feel doing one gives you a strong base for your career pathway and future, which is awesome. My company allows me to develop different skills and in different environments. I started working in the stainless workshop doing light fabrication and then started working in the Carbon workshop doing heavy fabrication. Now I’m working on projects on sites. Gaining different skills each day makes me more confident and successful.”

Competenz has supported Karthikeya throughout his learning journey and he is thankful for their help. Competenz Training Advisor John Crombie says the young apprentice has worked tirelessly on his e-learning.

“Karthikeya is the only apprentice I have ever experienced to have completed all three years’ e-learning in only 16 months. Every week Karthikeya has done several hours after work, working on his e-learning. This has led to him progressing through his on-line studies at a rapid rate.

“He has a very enthusiastic attitude and I have not needed to motivate him at all. He communicates well and is humble and respectful toward others. He is a very motivated young man.”

Once qualified, Karthikeya plans to become a Team Leader or start studying towards a business qualification to move into management. He has advice for school leavers about on-the-job training.

“Show what you have learned and built up and people won’t even ask if you have a degree. Concentrate on your passion and if you love engineering, I recommend you do an apprenticeship. You won’t regret it. Trust me.”

Interested in an apprenticeship or investing in skills development? We can help you to get started.