Teigan Jopson says school leavers should consider following her path into an apprenticeship.

“I like providing the amenity and just doing a good job, making things look nice and also safeguarding people – especially those who are disabled, ” says Teigan. “I suppose that’s the whole point of plumbing and I think that is important.”

Teigan is nearing the end of her five-year Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying apprenticeship through Masterlink. She has been hosted throughout her time by the University of Otago’s Property Services Division in Dunedin.

Teigan Jopson bathroom fit out

Doing the Gateway programme – in her final year at high school – was the kick-start to her getting an apprenticeship when she left school.

“It was great. Gateway put me with a company to get some experience for a week and that is how I got my first taste of the trade. It is really cool that we have all the different trades working in together here at the university. There is a lot of communication between jobs – which makes it easy – and I work with a lot of older guys here so I have learned lots of valuable information.”

The work Teigan does at the university is different to the normal domestic and commercial plumbing work – and she likes the variety.

It is a different box of frogs really compared to house plumbing. There is quite a large range of work, from uni flats, to all the halls of residence, to all the labs.

- Teigan Jopson

Teigan Jopson Otago Uni lab gas fitout
Masterlink apprentice Teigan Jopson with gas lines she installed in a laboratory at the University of Otago in Dunedin. Stainless steel fit out carrying hydrogen, nitrogen, compressed air and helium

Last year, Teigan was honoured to be highly commended in the Apprentice Category of NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction) NZ Excellence Awards.

She was quite surprised to get the award – it has given her confidence a huge boost to know that she can achieve high goals.

“It is not just because I am a female.I just like doing the job and not having the gender involved really. It was great to be commended for my work.”

Teigan has also taken a great deal of confidence from winning a Masterlink Outward Bound Scholarship this year and attending a Building Leaders course.

“It was an awesome experience and I am very grateful for it.

“I learned more about myself and just being able to grow in a safe and supportive environment – which is also important for a female in the trades.”

Stacey Mendonca - Teigan Jopson - Richard Doig
Teigan receives the Highly Commended Award (Apprentice Category) from Stacey Mendonca and Richard Doig at the 2022 NAWIC Excellence Awards

There are far more females working in the trades than ever before – which Teigan says is a positive thing.

“It is good that more girls are getting into it because we can do it. Your sex has nothing to do with anything – if you can do a good job, that is what matters."

Teigan attended Taieri College in Mosgiel. Her favourite subjects in Year 13 were Oil Painting, photography, English, Biology and Advancement, which helped her learn to study and take notes.

She says school leavers should consider following her path into an apprenticeship.

"When I was at school, I just wanted to get out there, get handy, get on the tools and make some money. I took the opportunity and ran with it."

Teigan Jopson 1

This article, written by Peter White, first appeared in Leaving School magazine Issue #28