Growing up in Palmerston North, Bree Croft knew from a young age that her career would be outdoors; office life just didn’t seem like fun. Straight out of high school, Bree wanted to join the trades, but feeling shy and unsure about joining, Bree began her first job in a daycare alongside her mum. Earning money felt good, but after a while, Bree felt the urge to give carpentry a go. Despite being nervous about the unknown, Bree set out to  take her next career step.

As Bree says, “It was still scary, but I thought, you’re older now and more mature. Put on those big girl pants and go for it. Otherwise, I was just going to stay somewhere I wasn’t happy”. Bree started carpentry training with  ELE Workforce, which offered a preapprenticeship programme for Māori. Through ELE, she was placed with John Fillmore Contracting (JFC) on a large-scale earthworks development for Fisher & Paykel in Highbrook.

Shortly after starting, Bree was offered a job with JFC but initially declined to continue her carpentry path. Her manager then explained the value of exploring different construction areas as a young person, and that she will
get carpentry exposure on civil projects. Taking this advice, Bree signed a contract with JFC and began her career in civil construction.

Upskilling and building confidence

Bree has been working on the Westhaven Seawall Upgrade in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. The project is in its early stages, so over the past two months, she has worked on ducting, concreting, road rehabilitation, and  carpentry with on-site formwork. There are many opportunities on a JFC project, allowing everyone in the team to constantly learn and upskill. Applying her new skills gained from the Fisher & Paykel site, Bree confidently  participated in the ducting portion of the project.

Whānau life

Working further away from home can be challenging for Bree, who has a young family. However, looking at the bigger picture, Bree is confident that what she does is worth it. Her family’s support has kept Bree going. Flexible work hours on some days help Bree and her family manage and keep weekends for family time. Advice to young tradies in the making “If it’s something you’re interested in and passionate about, why not do
it? You need to be happy at work and enjoy what you’re doing. Taking the first step is the hardest, but it becomes easy once you’re there and settle in.”

Initially, asking questions was tough, but now Bree encourages it. “Even though you can help out on-site, you need to think about why you are doing it this way; everything’s got a reason.” She also says to build good relationships with your team and management and learn maths while you can!

Surprise yourself!

“My biggest achievement is having the courage to do this. I’m a very reserved person; I go with the flow. People who know me can’t believe I did this. I’m not the type to get out of my comfort zone, but finding the confidence  to do it feels good.”

Looking ahead

Bree has joined the JFC’s in-house Training Academy for skilled labourer pathway, offering on-site practical learning and formal qualifications. JFC offers many different roles and opportunities. A project manager has advised Bree to pair herself with a carpenter to further her basic skills. Most projects involve rough carpentry throughout, allowing Bree to continue with basic skills and use hand tools. More complex finishing and detailing  are required for the construction of elaborate structural features of streetscape projects, which offers another opportunity for Bree to keep exploring her interest in carpentry.

JFC are always looking to hire the right people. If you’re interested in working in construction, all you need to bring is a hardworking and team player attitude, and we will teach you the rest. Apply online at