Swapping a Pension for a New Passion in Carpentry

At the age of 66, the only new career most of us are considering is that of professional retiree. Not Marcus Brown, who recently embarked on an BCITO apprenticeship. Marcus graduated on 4 April 2024 with a New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry, making him BCITO’s oldest recent graduate, and still going strong despite a hip replacement.

After moving from the UK to New Zealand over twenty years ago, Marcus found himself at a crossroads in his career. Originally a land agent working for the National Trust and local authorities in the UK, he discovered that his role didn’t quite fit the New Zealand context. Settling in Oamaru, Marcus took on a few different roles before being offered a job as a hammer hand, which was the catalyst for his career in the trades.

Given the option of retiring or taking on a new career, Marcus was driven by a desire to stay active and gain new qualifications.

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“When the opportunity arose, I didn't hesitate to ask about a BCITO apprenticeship. I was fortunate that my employer, Brett Stuart at Cross Cut Construction, was supportive and encouraged me to embark on this journey,” Marcus recalls.

“I craved the mental and physical stimulation that comes with apprenticeship training. It was a path I felt very passionate about.”

The best part of his new job is the camaraderie with his younger colleagues. Marcus confesses he loves the banter, although he also loves to work hard.

The physical side can be challenging, especially in the southern winter months. Marcus has faced physical strains, including pulling a hamstring.

“Young people don’t strain themselves in the same way. I can only stay so active because of my hip replacement. It put years back onto me,” he says.

His BCITO training has also helped keep him feeling young.

My Training Advisor, Steve McLellan a former builder and inspector, was also very supportive. I really appreciate being able to pick up the phone and talk to him anytime, receiving guidance from someone who understands my experiences,” he explains.

Marcus’s advice for those considering a career change later in life is clear. “Don’t wait. Seek out an environment that will provide you with the space and support you need,” he advises. He also underscores the significance of hard work and finding the right fit.

While Marcus is unsure how long his carpentry career will last, he remains dedicated to giving it his all. “I’ve done the very best I can, and I’m not afraid to put my hand up,” he says.

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Aotearoa, New Zealand, needs more people from all backgrounds (and stages in life) to consider a career in the trades. BCITO has the resources and support systems to ensure everyone can enhance and refine their skills. To learn more, head to: https://bcito.org.nz/

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