From left: Brooke and Larraine Lemafa

Post: More hands make light work

“What I like most about working together is working with my best friend.” For 24-year-old electrician Larraine Lemafa, that best friend is her twin sister and fellow electrician Brooke.

Brooke and Larraine have both recently completed a New Zealand Apprenticeship Electrical Engineering Theory and Practice (Trade) Level 4  while working together for JMP Engineering in West Auckland. Over the course of their training, the twins, of Te Kawerau ā Maki, worked closely with EarnLearn Electrical Industry Manager Marius Schmidt, receiving mentoring and pre-exam tutoring, but they also found it hugely beneficial to go through their apprenticeship together.

“The benefits of working together is we get to share knowledge with each other,” Brooke says. “If [Larraine] is learning something new she can share it with me, and if I’m learning something new I can share it with her. If I’m uncertain about something, it might be something she knows about, and she’s someone I’m comfortable to go to and get that knowledge.”

Larraine adds that now they’ve grown older and don’t live together in the family home anymore, it’s a nice bonus to be able to see her sister and best friend every day at work.

The twins also share a similar pathway to being accepted as apprentices with JMP, having both initially left school and gone into supermarket jobs and both learning they wanted more from their careers, but didn’t want to go on to university. The ability to earn while they learned made going into a trade particularly appealing.

“I realised I didn’t want to stay in retail for the rest of my life but I didn’t want to go to university because I didn’t have one subject I was passionate about. I decided to go with a trade because you get to make money while you learn and you come out with life skills and a certificate at the end of it,” Larraine says.

Brooke adds that she didn’t want a huge loan that would come with university study, and instead took some inspiration from their older brother who is also an electrician who now owns his own contracting business.

Both women completed their pre-trade training together, but finished mid-pandemic when finding apprenticeships was tricky. Both initially tried residential electrical work, but found they wanted more of a challenge. A mutual friend mentioned JMP Engineering was hiring and they both jumped at the opportunity to try something different.

“At JMP we get to learn something new every day. The type of work here is so wide, it means constant learning and it’s really opened my eyes to all the different aspects of electrical you can do,” Brooke says.

Larraine and Brooke both encourage other young people looking at their career options to consider a trade apprenticeship.

“Just go for it,” Larraine says. “There’s not much to lose by giving an apprenticeship a try. You earn money while you learn which is a big perk. And the block courses are great. The tutors we had were really helpful and have been there to support us along the way. Even outside of work or the course we could message them questions and they’d be there to answer it. You’ll get a lot of support.”

“Making money while you learn is a big win-win. We are developing all these skills and getting knowledge while getting paid to do it. We don’t have to struggle to pay the bills or find part-time work while we study because our work is our learning,” Brooke says.