Ray Baker recognised quite early that the classroom was not the right learning environment for him. He says, “I was always a hands-on sort of person, I left school quite early, well got kicked out of school when I was about 15, it just wasn’t for me, I believe it is not for everyone. You learn your whole life you never stop learning, but there are different ways of learning, I’m not saying don’t go to school, but there are options - it depends on what you want to do.”
Luckily an opportunity came up in the Cook Islands where Ray lived. He says, “There was a project starting in Rarotonga at the port with McConnell Dowell, the old man sort of kicked me off the couch and said there is a job - go and get it. I got the job and I really enjoyed it. I was also offered an opportunity to do the Core Concrete Skills qualification with BCITO. It was hands-on learning, not just learning in the classroom, and included learning other worthwhile skills as well, like communication and the teamwork aspect of things. I completed Concrete Core Skills in the Cook Islands and then I was offered a job with Concrete Structures and the rest is history - they brought me to New Zealand.”
Ray says things moved pretty fast, “They signed me into the Concrete Construction qualification and I got to do all sorts of work right across the country. I had a number of different BCITO assessors, I even spent a year and a half in Christchurch building a bridge which was really cool. I learned a lot!” Ray was still a teenager at that time, but he showed commitment and enthusiasm for the concrete trades. He was fortunate to have had an employer who recognised his talent.
We know that there are a lot of people working within the concrete trades and not training so we asked Ray what he thinks the barriers might be. He says, “Getting started is the hardest thing - getting in there and having the opportunity. I worked about six months labouring before I got anywhere. I think once you are past that stage and have proven yourself, it’s got to be what you want. Completing the Core Skills definitely helped me progress and was the stepping stone to various career path options. It's all hands-on and you're there learning the theory and putting it into action yourself. Once you finish Core Skills you can think about the next stage and how that works. I always looked ahead to the next step and where I could see myself, or what I'd aspire to be.” Ray is a positive role model for those joining the industry. He says, “I think what I have done has rubbed off a bit on my team. I have a couple of apprentices under me now and they watch me and know it can be done. So it is a bit of motivation for them.”
The working environment is also a big plus for getting into trades. Ray says, “It is important that apprentices are surrounded by a good team that will help them out. If you have a good bunch of people around you who you respect and can learn from, it’s a lot easier to get ahead.”
Ray completed his Concrete Construction qualification and was looking for a new challenge. He is lucky enough to work for a company that values educating their people formally. Ray says, “The company I work for really pushes for this sort of stuff. They are always looking at upskilling their team. Putting them through qualifications and training.” This meant when we launched the Advanced Trades Supervisory Skills programme it was a great fit for Ray. He is currently working his way through the different modules with the expectation he will probably complete early next year.
Ray says this won’t be the end of his education, “I’m still thinking about what sort of pathway I want to go down next, I could stay where I am or do something at University if I wanted to. The choices are there I just need to have a good think about things.”
BCITO offers a Graduate Scholarship of $3,000 to help people in the trades who want to progress to higher education and that may be a great option for Ray when he has completed his current programme.
At 22 years old, Ray proves that young people do have the drive and determination to succeed when they are given the opportunity. What more will Ray achieve? Watch this space - with his positive attitude and work ethic, the sky’s the limit.
For more information about Graduate Scholarships, please contact Marketing at BCITO.