Apprentice Blair Underwood has claimed victory against five other skilled apprentices, winning the title of Bay of Plenty’s top building apprentice at the NZCB Apprentice Challenge, in association with ITM, on 6 April.

The competition was fierce as this year’s Apprentice Challenge received a large amount of entries nationwide, including a record number of entries nationwide from female apprentices.

Apprentices were given just eight hours to create a park seat from detailed construction plans. The park seats were assessed by a panel of expert judges on workmanship, measuring, cutting and assembly, with Underwood’s park seat receiving the highest overall score.

The park seats crafted by apprentices will be donated to their respective regional Cancer Society divisions, including the accommodation services offered by the society. 

Winner, Blair Underwood, aged 21, is in the fourth year of his building apprenticeship at Peter Vossen Builders. As the regional winner, he takes home a range of trade tools courtesy of sponsor ITM, and will move forward to represent Bay of Plenty at the NZCB Apprentice Challenge Final, to be held at the NZCB Annual Conference in Christchurch on 14-15 June.

Underwood will face 19 other regional winners from around the country to compete for the Ken Read Memorial Trophy and $50,000 in prizes.

NZCB Chief Executive Grant Florence was impressed with the skill, talent, and passion the carpentry apprentices demonstrated – a testament to their dedication, employer support, and the comprehensive training provided by the ITAB (Industry Training Association Building) scheme.

“The future of New Zealand’s building industry is dependent on a robust pipeline of top-quality apprentices. Fostering and encouraging young talent is a responsibility NZCB takes seriously.

“We encourage our member builders to take on apprentices, as it creates a pathway into the industry and ensures the sector can meet the increasing demand for trade-qualified, highly-skilled and well-rounded building professionals,” says Grant. 

More comprehensive than other apprentice training schemes and programmes, the ITAB apprenticeship scheme provides over four years of extensive practical experience and solid theoretical training, setting apprentices up for a successful career in the building industry with a broad set of professional skills.