From accounting to building

Jeremy Pearce is a BCITO carpentry apprentice with a unique career history. Formerly a financial advisor, we spoke to Jeremy about his decision to pick up the tools and switch into the trades.


“I left high school to study for a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Canterbury, before moving to Brisbane to start a financial advisor cadetship. While the six and a half years I spent over there were interesting, I have always had a passion for fixing things, and building was always at the back of my mind.”

At age 30, Jeremy decided to take the leap and move into the construction industry. He returned to New Zealand and started a BCITO carpentry apprenticeship at Scott Construction in Nelson.

“I was open to the fact it might not work out for me, but luckily it did. Building is very different to finance, but there are some transferable skills, such as communication and project management. I enjoy the wide range of challenges I face everyday and the constant opportunities to learn new skills.”

Last year Jeremy took part in the Master Builders’ Apprentice of the Year, placing first at the Upper South Island regional event and going on to compete at the national competition in Auckland. Judges at the competition described Jeremy as an apprentice who is well-regarded by his peers and could clearly explain his plans, materials, and relevant legislative requirements.

At the national competition, Jeremy was one of the 60% of apprentices who had made a career switch into building, reflecting how the industry is becoming an attractive option for experienced professionals.

“I encourage anyone interested in the trades to give it a go. If it is not the right fit, you can always go back to your previous career.”

Diversity is improving in the construction industry, in not only age, but also culture and gender. A recent report by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment found that diversity is being driven at the apprenticeship level, with the Government’s Apprenticeship Boost Scheme reporting that 19 percent of the over 50,000 apprentices in the scheme identify as Māori and eight percent identify as Pacifica. It also found that the number of female workers employed in the sector has nearly doubled in the last decade.

BCITO | Te Pūkenga needs more people to consider an apprenticeship. For more information and to learn what support is available, visit:     

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