Apprentice profile supplied and used with permission from Komatsu NZ
In January, Komatsu NZ put on six new apprentices – two in Auckland, two in Christchurch, and one each in Invercargill and Hamilton – as part of its commitment to maintain and build its service and support skills and expertise. In this edition we profile Layla Hunter, who recently started at our Christchurch branch – and how her determination and enthusiasm helped get her start.
Layla, who left high school in 2015, had been in a range of jobs, including retail and hospitality before starting traffic control work with a fibre optic contractor. That experience is what attracted her to working with heavy equipment.
While she says she had no specific interest in big machines as a child, she has grown up with two brothers who were a big influence on her perspective and saw plenty of earthmoving and construction equipment while working in traffic control.
“I was looking at nursing before this, I did the pre-health certificate, but realised I couldn’t see myself enjoying that field."
“Then I decided I want to go with my prior idea and become a mechanic. Heavy machinery was my main interest, so I completed a certificate in Automotive Engineering at the Southern Institute of Technology during 2019,” Layla says.
“Having a pre-trade certificate was one of the requirements when applying for an apprenticeship with Komatsu. I had to go through a selection process, which involved applying online, doing some maths and literacy questions, as well as some questions that show your mechanical knowledge. I got a formal interview, then a short time later the phone call telling me I’d got the job, which was very exciting,” she says.
“Since starting at Komatsu, where I’m doing a certificate in Heavy Automotive Engineering, it’s all been really good!”
“As soon as we started, all us NZ apprentices went over to Brisbane for two weeks training, learning all the health and safety and HR procedures, how to use the technical support apps, and finding out all about the company. We also got a tour of the Wacol branch, which was very interesting.”
Layla has been advised she should complete her apprenticeship in around two-and-a-half years due to her prior qualifications, which would usually take four years. And her preferred equipment types? “Well, I do like dozers and skidsteers but I have been told they can be a bit horrible to work on!”
Ideally, she’d like to remain in Christchurch once she’s qualified, so she's close to her family and friends. “Yeah, it would be nice to stay in Christchurch, but I’m always open to options because it would be good to have the opportunity to go and work in other areas for a bit,” says Layla.