In the Lounge, on the Tools: A BCITO Learning Initiative to Build Skills

When you’re an apprentice, the focus is on cramming as much information and knowhow into your brain as fast as possible, picking up those vital skills to become a qualified tradie. But when you’re surrounded by busy experts, it can be daunting to interrupt in the middle of a task to ask why they’re doing something that way.

Being the only one at your workplace who doesn’t know things that everyone else does can feel a little lonely. That’s why Timber Joinery apprentice James Turner is so positive about BCITO’s Apprentice Lounges.

The Apprentice Lounges are an opportunity for BCITO apprentices around the country to come together for demonstrations and Q&A sessions on their specific trade. Featuring industry partners, the sessions aim to enhance apprentices’ skills and foster a sense of community.

James began his apprenticeship in cabinetry at Steadfast Joinery in January 2023. His BCITO Training Advisor, Damon, let him know about the first-ever Timber Joinery Apprentice Lounge scheduled for the end of that year.

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Keen to meet more new tradies like himself, James was eager to attend.

“I really value in-person learning, so I was stoked that BCITO brought together apprentices like this,” he says.

Having experienced his first event, he emphasises the approach is also valuable for those a little further on in their careers.

“It was great to hear from others in the industry and share knowledge. I think it’s important for everyone, even qualified tradespeople, to take the opportunity to learn more and upskill.”

Andrew Bellamy, General Manager at Dunedin's Wood Solutions, was equally impressed by how much it helped his apprentices.

“There’s so much value in collaboration, sharing information and helping each other,” he explains.

“After the event, I noticed that they had definitely picked up a lot and increased their skillset. When you’re on the job, often we’re busy and don’t explain the why. The Apprentice Lounge ensures there are no gaps, and that apprentices' theoretical knowledge is equally as strong and is consistent with industry standards.”

As the events are recorded, they become great tools for any new apprentices to watch, even if they can’t make it to an Apprentice Lounge in person.

“Not only are the Lounges interactive and accommodate people who learn in different ways, they’re a great resource to go back and rewatch to brush up on your skill set,” James continues.

“I would absolutely participate again.”

Aotearoa New Zealand needs more people from all backgrounds to consider a career in the trades. BCITO has the resources and support systems in place to ensure everyone can enhance and refine their skills. To learn more, head to

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