The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2 (June, 1926)
Training of Apprentices
The future welfare of our railway engineering organisation depends in a great measure upon the engineering capabilities and education of the apprentices of to-day, for we have to look to these lads to fill the executive positions in the Service in the future. The three avenues of instruction to apprentices that have to be considered are (1) Personal, (2) Practical, (3) Educational.
The majority of the boys who commence their career in the Railway Service as apprentices have had no experience of the particular trade to which they are indentured, and in such instances it behoves the foremen and leading hands individually concerned carefully to view the efforts made by each boy to master the daily problems he is confronted with. If, in the opinion of the officers concerned, a boy is doing his utmost, it should be the province of his superior officer to acknowledge the effort and take a personal interest in the progress of such apprentice by tendering sound advice as to behaviour, workmanship and education.
Generally speaking, the practical training afforded the apprentice in our workshops may be considered good. An all round knowledge of machine tool work is incorporated in conjunction with the practical training, and it should therefore be the aim of our foremen and leading hands to place the apprentice who has evinced a definite desire to master his trade, with the most competent tradesman who is temperamentally suited to act as instructor.
During the past five years the Department has granted monetary remuneration to those apprentices who have attended technical colleges in their own time and secured the requisite diplomas. This, however, has failed to stimulate apprentices to attain the necessary educational qualifications. It is also a moot point as to whether the instruction offered in such colleges has been of very material benefit to such apprentices.
The Department has decided to give all apprentices at least three hours instruction per week in departmental time. This is a move in the right direction, and I would appeal to all tradesmen to foster the movement to the utmost of their ability. The apprentices should avail themselves also of this avenue of knowledge afforded them by strict application to their work and studies. The aim of the management is to assist in maintaining the present high standard of workmanship set by our leading tradesmen.
It is a well known adage that “Competition makes for progressiveness” and the educational programme in view will probably lead to competitive examinations at six monthly or twelve monthly intervals. The ideal would be to afford those apprentices who attained the highest marks an opportunity of acquiring further knowledge at an Engineering College, or in the alternative, experience abroad.
The Department has the interests of the apprentices at heart, and every railwayman should assist the educational proposals to the utmost of his ability. Apprentices should embrace every opportunity of improving their knowledge mental and manual.