Powering into an electrical trades career

24 May 2023

Industrial electrician James Jerard (14579) has sparked interest in trades during the first Christ’s College Careers Convos session for 2023.

A Condell’s House Old Boy, James, 23, has shared his own successful trades pathway from College to Professional Electrics (Prolec) electrician via an apprenticeship.

As both James and College Careers Advisor Chris Sellars have pointed out to the boys at Thursday’s session, “you don’t have to go to university” to carve out a highly successful career.

Following Year 13 in 2017, James headed to Ara in Christchurch, completing an 11-month pre-trades Certificate in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. This enabled James to move quickly into the workforce – and start earning – as an electrical apprentice with Prolec, a multidisciplinary business specialising in industrial electrical and automation systems.

His present role provides James with “massive experience” in the industrial and commercial field, including manufacturing plants, along with carrying out “a lot of physical work”.

From transformers to factories, James works on a range of projects around New Zealand that are “never boring”. He is about to officially complete his apprenticeship, which usually takes four and a half years for industrial field specialists.

He explains that one of the advantages of an apprenticeship is that you start earning straight away, rather than having no pay while studying for years at university.

During his apprenticeship, there has been a pay rise when he completes new papers along the way. While he hopes to manage his own business one day, a move to Australia for more experience and opportunities is next on his career path.

He credits his time at Christ’s College for lifting his academic outcomes, particularly appreciating doing Physics, and the opportunities to build on his character strengths and grow as a person, along with the support of his Housemaster, Tony O’Connor.

He encourages students to consider the advantages of a trades career, citing the breadth and depth of engaging experiences, and the ability to manage your own pathway while earning good money.

Mr Sellars has also reminded students they can have “a taste of a trades career” at special ‘taster days’ regularly hosted by Ara.