Thomas Reddiex has turned his love of machinery into a dream career in civil construction, laying pipelines on high-profile projects such as the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway north of Wellington.

He has worked at Goodmans for over a year and a half and began his pipelaying apprenticeship two months ago – through Connexis Free Trades Training, a government-funded incentive.

Thomas got his first taste of the civil construction industry through Onslow College’s Gateway programme – which offers senior students structured, hands-on industry experience as a unit standard.

“The work experience was great,” Thomas says.

“Goodmans took me on and put me in a good programme to get an idea of the industry.”

At 16-years-old, Thomas worked one day a week for 10 weeks – under supervision – of which he recalls days spent with the enviro crew, doing drainage work and riding around in a dump truck.

A strong work ethic and desire to learn led to Thomas being offered paid school holiday work before a pipelaying apprenticeship, says Ruth Surrey, Goodmans HR Manager.

“He did so well that the team wanted him back at the end,” she says.

“What struck me when he first got in touch was that he was just so hungry for work in our industry. He had seen our gear and liked it, and then we were contacted by him and his dad.”

For now, Thomas is focusing on completing his apprenticeship. But he has ambitions of becoming a drainage supervisor and eventually running his own drainage crew.

His interest in civil construction piqued as a teenager. At his home in Churton Park, Thomas would look out the window at a subdivision project and marvel at the machines and how the job progressed each day.

Thomas says his family was very supportive of his career decision.

“They all helped in different ways. My dad drove me up to Waikanae once a week for my Gateway programme – every day leaving at 5.30 am – and would go around the construction sites with me when I was younger.”

Now Thomas can admire the progress of construction sites he works on.

“Seeing the finished product is the best part, to know I helped do that.”

He enjoys working outdoors, with his hands, doing what he loves, in a fun and supportive environment.

“It’s a good workplace at Goodmans. The people are entertaining. All the characters there make it fun.”

Thomas was never interested in going to university nor working in an office.

“I didn’t want to have another year of school learning when I can get paid to learn,” he says.

Even cold, rainy winter days haven’t tempted Thomas indoors.

“It’s not too bad. Once you’re wet, you’re wet,” he laughs. “It’s not the most comfortable but it’s doable.”

“It’s a great industry,” he says. “I personally couldn’t do an office job.”

Thomas’s advice to anyone interested in a career in civil construction: “Just do it”. In particular, he urges senior students to give it a go through Gateway programmes.

“I’d go to my careers advisor, try to get a Gateway placement doing that type of work. That’s the best way to see if you like it and get hands-on experience.

“Just go and do it. Just take that step and do not procrastinate.”