First woman to complete new version of mechanical engineering apprenticeship

August 23, 2022

Melinda van den Dolder is the first woman to complete the new version of the New Zealand Certificate in Mechanical Engineering (Trade) (Level 4) with strands in Fitting and Machining, General Engineering, Machining, and Maintenance.

This achievement is even more remarkable given that Melinda, originally from the Netherlands, arrived in New Zealand in 2001 with her family not speaking English. Melinda was then home-schooled until the age of sixteen, where she developed an interest in hands-on practical work.

Melinda developed a passion for mechanical engineering at a young age, as her dad owns his own mechanical engineering business – Neil Precision Ltd. At “Dad's work” is where Melinda got a taste for designing, fabricating and machinery. This exposure helped her decide on her career pathway. Her fiancé is in the same line of work and also works for the family business.

During the four years it took to complete her apprenticeship, Melinda's knowledge and confidence grew. Her strength and skill shine through in her love of welding: it didn't take her long to develop proficiency in the trade.

Competenz training advisor Allen Bryce describes her practical abilities as fantastic due to her work ethic and hard-working nature. He is delighted to see Melinda qualified.

“She worked hard on the theory to complete it and was well on track. Melinda undertakes various engineering jobs at work and seems to enjoy the engineering trade. She has become a talented tradesperson."

With the support of her training advisor, Melinda has received the mentorship she needed. "Competenz will provide a thorough, in-depth training plan, and training advisors are beneficial whenever guidance is needed," she says.

Melinda acknowledges that one of the challenges during her apprenticeship was work/study balance. She is glad that her hard work paid off and is now qualified and able to be fully on the job.

With her mechanical engineering qualification, Melinda looks forward to expanding her knowledge and gaining more experience. Her goal is to take over the family business in partnership with her fiancé.

Melinda recommends an apprenticeship to anyone who loves to work with their hands and enjoys creating new things. “You will learn to create something that helps make a difference in people's lives and businesses.”

"I hope my accomplishment serves as a reminder that anyone can achieve what they set out to do and that gender is no barrier to reaching these goals."

If you are interested in a mechanical engineering  apprenticeship or investing in skills development, we can help you to get started.