P1250573 v2 women in automotive

Finding a perfect match

If you walked into Wellington College’s school hall in August 2023, you might have seen what looked like a speed dating event. People were moving from table to table trying to make a good first impression. Short but in-depth conversations filled the room. There were hundreds of earnest attempts to get to know each other as everyone searched for their perfect match. This however was not singles looking for love, but students looking for careers! The SpeedMeet event organised by MITO - Te Pūkenga brought together students and local employers, including Thomas Craig (Tom) the director of Hutt Automatics. He was stoked to find his newest apprentice at the event, Olivia, who was also very happy with the outcome. “Thank goodness we matched because now I have a really good job.”

Olivia has been watching motorsport with her mum since she was a toddler, so its no surprise she developed a passion for the automotive industry. She enrolled in MITO’s StartUp micro-credential while at Tawa College and had work experience at The Surgery in Tawa. “It gave me a really good sense of what its like to work in a trade”. And helped her know for sure that she wanted to work with cars.

Getting paid while you learn is a really good bonus.


Initially Olivia was a bit nervous about SpeedMeet, but she had a great experience. “It was really well set up and I had lots of interviews with lots of different job types.” Olivia really liked the sound of Tom’s close-knit team with lots of young people working together and was intrigued by transmission work. “It sounded pretty interesting, and I had to give it a go.”

Tom was equally impressed by Olivia as a potential apprentice. He had been looking for an apprentice for quite a while when he got an email from MITO asking if he’d like to register for the SpeedMeet event. “I wanted to find someone that was young and keen, so I thought there was no better way than meeting a large amount of young people that were looking to leave school and get into a job.”

When Olivia reached Hutt Automatics’ table, her passion for the industry shone through. Tom noticed how keen she was about cars and learning about them. “The way she talked, you could just tell that she was going to be up front, honest and just all the qualities you look for in a young apprentice.” Not only did Tom find a great apprentice, but he found SpeedMeet was much more efficient than traditional recruitment strategies. “I saved so much time - I met 50-70 kids in that day, whereas if I had just taken applications from elsewhere, you’d need a week or two to work through them and then find time for interviews, so in the end SpeedMeet was a real time saver.”

The benefits for both Tom and Olivia have only continued to flourish since their match. Olivia has now enrolled in MITO’s New Zealand Certificate in Light Automotive Engineering (Level 3 and 4). She enjoys having lots of resources right at her fingertips through eLearning and getting to do lots of problem solving on the job. “Getting paid while you learn as well is a really good bonus”. She also praises the support she receives from her MITO Training Advisor Brian Scott, Tom and her whole Hutt Automatics team, saying “they feel like family”.

Tom is proud to have Olivia on his team and recognises the value of having a young person’s perspective in the workplace. “I always like to have an apprentice and then promote from within, it’s just the sort of business we run. It’s always important to pass knowledge down too before the knowledge is retired and in the retirement home”. This knowledge is put to good use when passed on to a quick learner like Olivia who Tom says, “gets better and better every day.”

Olivia highly recommends students take advantage of SpeedMeet events in the future. “It’s a really good way to branch out there and make lots of connections”. 

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