Nineteen year old Auckland man, Faleola ‘Fale’ Faingataa, opted for the path less taken when he chose an apprenticeship at Vodafone over his university education. And his decision has led to success. Only 18 months into his apprenticeship, Fale is working as a release and deployment manager and has won the telecommunications industry award for Apprentice of the Year due to his rapid assimilation into Vodafone and his contributions thus far.
Following Vodafone’s rigorous apprenticeship selection process early last year, Fale received the ‘acceptance’ call from the company on the same day he got acceptance calls from two universities. “I was shocked Vodafone had chosen me,” says Fale, “and then thought I would sit on the fence because since Year 9 I had wanted to go to ‘varsity. But I surprised myself by saying ‘yes’ immediately.”
“Choosing Vodafone meant I could learn and earn at the same time and it meant that I wouldn’t start my working life with a student loan.” Fale also explains how his family; Mum, Dad and five siblings; were initially confused and asked lots of questions. “In the end they were supportive. Dad always wanted me to go to university but he could see the benefits of heading straight into business.”
Since starting at Vodafone in February last year, Fale has been completing his Level 3 National Certificate in Telecommunications which he will finish by February 2016. He has also worked in four different areas of Vodafone. These include Business Intelligence, where he analysed customer data, and System Testing where he tested systems following app or iPhone updates. Fale believes he is particularly suited to his current role as it gives him more responsibility and he responds well to that pressure. “I have to ensure that any changes or updates are incorporated into all Vodafone systems – the website, any back office functions – overnight.”
“I have grown up a lot in a short time,” says Fale. “I am working with professionals who expect a lot from me.”
“In ten years time I see myself as a senior manager at Vodafone,” he says. Which means Fale would have come a long way from his state junior school in South Auckland and his scholarship at King’s College, to end up exactly where he wants to be in the world of business.
Fale is one of twenty apprentices accepted by Vodafone over the last two years. This year, the company is offering up to eight full scholarships for a Level 5 or 6 Diploma or Certificate. Identifying the students will be done collaboratively with an Industry Training Organisation (SKILLS.org) and various teams at Vodafone.
“Our programmes are aimed at young New Zealanders who may not have had the opportunity to take a conventional pathway into the world of business,” says Anton. “We want to uplift these students and we want to open the door to technology as a career, particularly for young women, and prove that it is accessible regardless of your background or circumstances.”
Kirstin Te Wao, Diversity Lead at Vodafone New Zealand says: “Bringing young people into our business is beneficial for so many different reasons, sustainability of our workforce and innovative thinking are two that immediately come to mind. This also supports the goal of the Vodafone Foundation to engage young people in meaningful learning.”
Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee says of Vodafone’s programmes: “This sort of collaboration between business and education will ensure that school leavers have an opportunity to continue on a successful pathway to study and employment. We are encouraging businesses and schools to source similar partnerships around the country. Learning happens both inside and outside of traditional forums.”