From Build a Bach to Apprenticeship

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Seventeen-year-old Cheyenne Robins got her first pay cheque as a building apprentice late last year while many of her peers are still deciding their next steps.

“I’ve always been keen on hands on work and when a teacher at school suggested taking part in Build a Bach in 2017 I was happy to give it a go,” says former Waitara High School student Cheyenne Robins.

Cheyenne then went onto a year of full time Build a Bach and completed her pre-trade qualification at WITT in 2018.

Her aptitude for building and good work ethic stood out early.

“I noticed Cheyenne at the annual apprentice challenge held by Taranaki Construction Safety Group where she was judged the best candidate out of 64, across 10 different assessors – she really proved herself in the field,” says Andrew Pepper from Pepper Construction who quickly offered Cheyenne work experience.

That work experience turned into paid holiday work, then an apprenticeship, which Cheyenne started in December last year.

“I feel lucky to have had the opportunity for the work experience and I made the most of it,” says Robins.

“The exposure to the hands-on experience young people get through Build a Bach really adds value for the employer – it’s a great trial before you hire,” says Pepper.

As for being a woman in a male dominated industry, Cheyenne says: “It would be cool to see more girls in the trade – if I can inspire one more girl to get into building it would be great. Build a Bach is a great way to start!”

“The crew are really positive and supportive of having Cheyenne in the team - and she in turn has got good EQ and a good sense of humour so gets on well with everyone,” says Pepper.

In its sixth year, Build a Bach began as a joint venture between Taranaki Futures and WITT that sees students build a house for sale under the guidance of WITT tutors and industry mentors.

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