Passion and persistence drives a not-so-typical apprenticeship opportunity


Daniel Wallace, owner operator of Electrify NZ in Mount Maunganui, has had several roles over the years, including that of a high school teacher for 17 years across NZ, Asia and the UK. So, when staffing at Electrify NZ was impacted by Covid earlier this year, he saw it as an excuse to combine his role as an employer and experience as a teacher to provide a not-so-typical apprenticeship opportunity.

Covid has had an impact at both the front retail and back staffing ends of Dan’s business, causing some of his team to relocate and forcing a staff restructure in the bike workshop. While advertising the new opening earlier this year in June, one of Dan’s regular customers approached him about the job opportunity for their 17-year-old son, Teagan.

Teagan at the time was struggling at high school due to his severe dyslexia. His hands-on approach to learning saw him succeed in school leadership programs and a stint on Outward Bound, but he was having difficulty with the academic components. “I really enjoyed high school, but found it difficult.” Teagan explains. Instead, his passion lay in mountain biking and bike mechanics, and his analytical, focused approach to problem solving suited the industry perfectly.

When Dan met Teagan for an interview, his enthusiasm and excitement shone through, ticking all the right boxes and coming across as a very mature and responsible young man. Teagan was initially signed up for a 3-month contract but a few unfortunate external constraints meant Dan could not give him the full-time job that he deserved.

Though the Ministry of Social Development offered help with young individuals being trained as apprentices through the Mana in Mahi program, Teagan’s role did not fit the ‘traditional apprenticeship’ requirements, even though globally bike mechanics (and especially E-Bike mechanics) are regarded as skilled workers.

“I feel that with the popularity of E-Bikes globally, NZ needs to establish a formal and recognised training program” says Dan.

So, they hit the books, calling upon Dan’s previous experience creating syllabus and frameworks in the education system. After much discussion, planning, external guidance and creating a mechanical program, the MSD was finally able to offer a special funding that would allow Teagan to stay and be trained as a Bike/E-bike mechanic.

Thanks to a $1,000 training allowance and apprentice subsidy, Teagan now works 35 hours a week and has a permanent contract. He has developed a huge amount of mechanical, IT and retail skills, and is learning to relate with, and sell e-bikes to, customers of all ages and backgrounds.

Dan reiterates “Teagan is a valuable member of our team and growing professionally. We are very thankful for the help that MSD has given to get this over the line and look forward to encouraging other businesses to create programs for potential employees that may not fit the traditional apprenticeship model.”