A little encouragement goes a long way, and for Merean Herman (pictured), some cheering from the sideline has put her on the path of achieving her dream to become a qualified Electrician.
Of Kiribati descent, 20-year-old Merean attended Southland Girls’ High School in Invercargill before taking up a New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering (L3) at Southern Institute of Technology.
Intrigued by how electricity works, Merean’s dream is to become a qualified Electrician.
Knowing she needed some extra support to accomplish her dream, she enrolled in the Tupu Aotearoa programme, facilitated by Service Provider Pacific Trust Otago (PTO) in Dunedin in November last year.
Employment and Training Navigator for Southland PTO Makalita Maka has worked with Merean since she first enrolled in Tupu Aotearoa.
“Merean was very shy initially and building a rapport with her and her family was important,” Makalita says.
“However, after that it got easier, and Merean did most of the talking.”
The pair discussed apprenticeships and the possibility of working and earning while completing her Electrician qualifications, and Merean felt a little hesitant as she had applied for several apprenticeships previously but had not received any replies.
Despite her reservations, Merean agreed to go through the process of applying for an apprenticeship while finding employment in the meantime.
The versatile young woman found work caregiving at Florence Nightingale Group, while Makalita connected with Southern Group Training Trust (SGTT) Manager Glenys McKenzie, who welcomed an apprenticeship application from Merean.
Makalita says supporting Merean through the application process was essential, and it included helping her access her NCEA results, and filling in all the required information, as this is how employers form an opinion of potential employees.
Eventually, Merean was offered an interview and assessment by SGTT, and while feedback was positive, Mathematics knowledge proved to be a work-on for Merean.
As luck would have it, Merean was offered an interview for an apprenticeship by SGTT at Tiwai Smelter, and Glenys willingly helped prepare Merean for it.
“Despite some nerves, Merean had the interview with Tiwai HR and the Manager of SGTT, she was shortlisted and started work experience – a very positive result,” Makalita says.
Working with Merean has been fulfilling, she adds, as she has helped a young Pacific woman gain confidence and move towards achieving her career dream.
“I also really treasure moments like being welcomed by her family into their home and meeting everyone, Makalita says.
“Supporting our Pacific families and walking alongside them so they can see a vision of a better future, is what makes this job so rewarding – it is a pleasure and privilege.”