19 year-old Dominin Simpson felt like school was not really for him.
And after he had made numerous attempts to get back into the school rhythm, it became clear that alternative education options were the only way to go, unless, of course, he wanted to be a professional planter for the rest of his life.
Luckily for Simpson, at that time Tereora College had begun a new referral programme which offered alternative courses in selected trade industries for students facing difficulties in learning in a traditional classroom setting.
With the assistance of his teachers and principal, a proposal was made for him to try the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute’s Trades School to give him the opportunity to explore another avenue of learning that could potentially trigger his interest.
With enrolments still being accepted for the CITTI CAPs programme, Simpson was accepted as a student which left him nervous but at the same time eager to get started
After the first couple of weeks on the programme, Simpson knew that through the immense help of his tutor Ken Page and the support from his family and friends, he was that much more motivated to push himself right to the end.
Not entirely keen on the idea of her son leaving school, Simpson’s mother was unsure of his decision, and feared for the possible consequences.
However, at the end of the day she offered her blessing and supported his decision to give it a go.
In December 2015, when Simpson successfully completed the programme and graduated with a certificate of achievement and recognition, and landed his first automotive engineering position with successful businessman John Strickland, his mother was much more content and happy both with his decision and his achievements.
“I enjoy everything about my job, and I can confidently say that I have absolutely no regrets for the education path I followed,” says Simpson.
Focusing more on cars rather than bikes, Simpson says it was through his work experience placement with Strickland Motors that he found his true passion as far as careers are concerned.
His employer John Strickland says that Simpson first came to him on a three-week work experience, however after the initial three weeks, he presented Simpson with an offer to continue on for four years, on the condition he continued to study to gain his qualification and had the support of his family.
Ticking all the boxes, Simpson promptly replied with an excited “yes.” And he couldn’t be any prouder, as he says he has landed his dream job.
“This is the best investment this county can every make, having confidence in its own people,” says Strickland.
For many years Strickland Motors has employed and trained mechanics who have failed to achieve an academic qualification and have been unable to further their education through the normal channels.
“Our young ones fall so easily into the drinking and socialising culture here in Rarotonga, but because of my great passion for the motor industry I am willing to help where I can,” says Strickland.
Ina George, CITTI Trade School manager, says he really enjoys seeing the amount of support shown by those in the industry, and although CITTI did the initial approach in Simpson’s case, his progress has involved a group effort from all entities.
Everyone worked together to achieve these successful results and can be all proud of the outcome, he says.