While her friends enjoy their school holidays, Kendyll Blissett is hard at work at our Lichfield site in Waikato. But the 17-year-old electrical apprentice wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I left school after Year 12 because I knew what I wanted to do”, says Kendyll. “My friends are all going to uni but I knew I wanted to start my career doing an electrical apprenticeship.”
Working with one of the many mentors she has on the job
“I really enjoy the mix of theory and practical, knowing the ‘what’ you are doing and the ‘why’ you are doing it a certain way. It’s quite a big workshop at Lichfield so I am learning so much from a range of different people who are mentoring me, instead of just one person. The beauty of that is because everyone has their own way of doing things, I have the opportunity to learn how to do the same thing using different methods.”
Kendyll says she’s always been drawn to the electrical trade. “When I was growing up and we were moving houses or renovating, I would look over the shoulder of the electricians to see what they were doing. It was way more interesting than plumbing or carpentry.”
With that interest piqued, Kendyll’s next step was to take the Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC) Trades Academy class offered by Hamilton Girls’ High School.
“Once a week we would go to WINTEC and do eight weeks of plumbing and gas fitting, eight weeks of carpentry and eight weeks of electrical. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do, despite my friends and teachers wanting me to wait and go to university. Some people think that trades are for those who are less intelligent, but that’s just not the case and I wanted to show them that.”
Those same teachers must have recognised Kendyll’s determination and drive, as they nominated her for the Prime Minister’s Vocational Excellence Award, which she won.
The award, established in 2019, recognises the achievements of students excelling in vocational education, with the top student at each secondary school winning $2,000 prize money and an award certificate.
“That gave me the confidence to know what I was doing was right for me”, says Kendyll, who isn’t intimidated by being a female in what is traditionally a male-dominated industry. “I have worked part time in bike shops in the past and was the only female, so it doesn’t faze me at all.”
That’s a message Kendyll uses to inspire others who might be considering an apprenticeship too when she visits schools and training academies, alongside Fonterra’s Apprentice Programme Manager Robyn White, to share her experiences. “I just talk about trades to encourage them to think about what they might want to do. Being young myself I reckon they can relate to me more and see that, if I can do it, they can too.”
Kendyll says being female in a male-dominated job doesn’t faze her at all
Kendyll has been interested in the electrical trade since she was young
Kendyll is one of 13 apprentices who started with Fonterra in January this year, part of the Co-op’s 2020 commitment to expand its apprenticeship programme by developing an additional 44 apprentices over two years.
Want to become an apprentice at Fonterra?
We’ve now opened recruitment for 23 apprenticeship positions with a start date in January 2022. Positions are based from Northland to Southland, providing quality employment and training in the regions.