Jamie Gaskell

Programme attended: Automotive Engineering (Level 3)

Polytechnic study accelerates automotive career

As a school leaver with a passion for cars, Jamie Gaskell signed up for Tai Poutini’s Certificate in Automotive Engineering.  It seemed a natural choice for a teenager who lived and breathed cars, and it was to be the first step on a pathway that would result in Jamie owning his own business.

“I’d always liked old cars, so I decided to do my Certificate course at Tai Poutini.  I learned a lot from the course, much of which I still use today.  It was such a positive learning experience, with everyone bouncing off each other.”

As the course progressed and the students learned more about the elements of automotive engineering they were less familiar with, a chance meeting led Jamie to change his trajectory.

“I’d assumed I’d work as a mechanic, because it was all I’d really thought of.  However, one day, I got sent down the road to run an errand at Mark Jones Panel and Paint.  While I was there, I had a look around and a good chat with Mark.”

Something about Jamie must have impressed the panel shop boss, because the next week, he was offered an apprenticeship as a panel beater.

“I was so keen!  I went along to the interview in my best clothes, and because he said I could start there and then, there I was under the car in a new white shirt – I didn’t want to say no,” recalls Jamie.

That was back in 1999, and today Jamie reflects on the change of direction that he discovered through his Tai Poutini certificate course.

“The course provided so much learning about all of the various career options, such as panel and paint, auto electrical and engine building, rather than just the mechanical side.  The goal was always to gain an apprenticeship, and so the offer came along at the perfect time.”

Jamie completed his trade training in three years, during which time he picked up leadership roles in the business as senior staff moved on.

In 2007 an opportunity to buy a Hokitika workshop was too good to pass up, and these days Jamie employs eight staff at his Hokitika Collision Centre business.

“We do panel beating, spray painting, wheel alignments, the usual stuff, and we specialise in restoration work as well, which is my passion. 

“This might not have been the path I originally set out on, but without the Certificate course at Tai Poutini, I wouldn’t have ended up in this career.  Now, I’m working at doing something I love, rather than something I have to do to earn a living, which is the way things should be.”