Matthew Cudby’s plans for a new career and home in a new location were disrupted by New Zealand’s entry into Lockdown in March 2020, and he found himself needing to quickly reassess his options to survive and keep moving forward.
“I had completed a five-year enlistment with the New Zealand Army as an Electronics Technician. In this role, I conducted the repair and maintenance of radio, night vision, laser, and optical equipment in a workshop environment”.
The qualifications he had gained whilst in the military had no formal recognition outside in civilian life, and he said the reality was he had to re-skill and learn a new profession.
“I had left the New Zealand Army in March with the intention of commencing a diesel automotive apprenticeship, and buying a house in Te Anau. Lockdown promptly ensured that this opportunity to learn a new set of skills, fell through. I had to reconsider my options”.
In fact, Mr Cudby’s first day back as a civilian, coincided with NZ’s first day in lockdown. Newly arrived in Te Anau, he saw mass redundancies take hold in the tourism industry, and the construction and automotive industries lost business confidence to take on new apprentices.
Initially he enrolled for the Rural Contractors course as a means of occupying time during his unemployment. Ultimately he realised the course also provided a way to upskill by utilising the free vehicle endorsements, and to fill a void in his CV.
During the course Mr Cudby learnt how to operate diggers, rollers, forklifts, and Case IH tractors. There were several tractors to use while learning, each with a different transmission system. He also learnt how to safely attach, operate, and remove farm implements utilised by the tractor.
Alongside learning useful new skills, the highlight of attending Telford for Mr Cudby were the people interactions, where he mixed with other students from all walks of life.
“I enjoyed meeting and getting to know the other students on the course... individuals who came from all stages in life and from all backgrounds - a former cargo ship captain, truckies returning home from Australia, and a graphics designer, to name a few”.
Now graduated, the rural contractors qualification has helped Mr Cudby to successfully gain full-time employment with Steve James Contracting in Te Anau. He says he’s looking forward to the harvest season ahead, and being back in the workforce earning money again gives him the opportunity to recoup lost savings from being unemployed during lockdown.
He’s confident that working in the rural contracting industry will allow him to get back on track with his life plans and will provide him with the means to purchase his first home.
“I see my newly-acquired skills benefiting my future by giving me an additional means of supporting myself and those that are part of my life. My time at Telford gave me an appreciation of farm life, and the individuals there that I shared my time with”.