Want to design, modify or fix cars?

Want to design, modify or fix cars?

You love cars and now you want to work on them. With NMIT you will, but there's a few things you might want to know first...

Q&A with Barry Paterson - Automotive Programme Coordinator at NMIT

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What are the top five things anyone thinking of embarking on a career in automotive engineering should know?

Sorry, I can’t narrow it to five!

OK, let’s start with the industry first...what skills are employers looking for?

The industry guys want to see the following qualities in an apprentice...

  • You must be punctual
  • If you say you’re going to do something – always do it
  • You must have very good attention to detail
  • You must have a very good work ethic
  • You must have good communication skills
  • You must present well – have a tidy appearance
  • You must be honest
  • You must have a strong willingness to learn
  • You must have a certain amount of mechanical aptitude – that is – be interested in working on motor vehicles!

Are employers more stringent about who they employ?

Yes – for the reasons listed above. They also prefer someone who has completed a pre-trade course because that person will have already acquired a skill set that can be used straight away in the workshop. In most cases the young people that have completed a pre-trade course have demonstrated a commitment to this career pathway.

The automotive industry is changing fast. There is new technology being added all the time. Do the courses available through NMIT account for these changes? If so, how?

Yes – NMIT regularly seeks industry feedback on the changes happening in the industry and responds to that with new equipment and training.

Do you teach students about electric car technologies or are you focused on general automotive engineering?

Hybrid technology is covered but there is no demand in this region yet for electric vehicle training.

How does NMIT prepare students for a career in the automotive industry?

By providing pathways like Student for a Day, the *Top of the South Trades Academy(external link), the full year pre-trade programme at level 3 and the **NMIT managed apprenticeships.

*If a career in the trades sounds like your sort of thing you can enrol in the Trades Academy programme(external link). Complete NCEA at school, while at the same time work towards a National Certificate in Trades one day per week at NMIT.

**While you are employed as an apprentice, you complete part time study online and attend weekly evening classes at NMIT. Completion of this National Certificate is the point where an apprentice becomes a fully qualified automotive technician.

Any advice for someone who is interested in studying to become an automotive technician?

Students who come into the NMIT pre-trade automotive courses with good numeracy and literacy skills behind them generally achieve a higher standard and enjoy the experience more. Any student with low numeracy and literacy ability will struggle with the content of the automotive programmes. My advice would be to upskill in these areas beforehand – either while at high school or by enrolling in a tertiary preparation course available through NMIT.

Final question...are autonomous cars a reality? Are people in the automotive industry bracing themselves?

No – not at this stage. It will be several years before the technology and software to have completely autonomous cars is perfected. A lot of the technology that will be used in autonomous cars is being used in the safety systems in modern vehicles now so technicians are already upskilling on this technology so the jump to servicing autonomous vehicles won’t be too big a leap.

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