Kayla carves out a career in plastics manufacturing

12 February 2018

Kayla Spyve has spent more than ten years working her way up in the plastics industry – and now she’s taken up the challenge to get qualified.  

As a die-setter at Lane Plastics in Auckland, Kayla works across 16 plastic injection moulding machines that manufacture more than 1,000 products for 280 customers in New Zealand and overseas.

She is responsible for mixing raw materials, changing and maintaining tools, and testing products to ensure they are top quality. She works with a wide range of materials including polypropylene, nylon, acetyl and PET.

“I’ve always liked taking things apart and putting them back together, and this job is really hands-on so it suits me,” Kayla says. “I like the mental challenge and the physical challenge.”

In 2017 she completed the National Certificate in Plastics Processing Technology Level 2 and is now completing level 3.

Tackling bookwork isn’t something that comes easy to Kayla, who as a teenager poured her energy into playing football rather than school. She excelled on the field, and continued to play at premier level in Auckland until a dislocated knee a few years ago forced her to move to a coaching role instead.  

“I wasn’t an academic kid, I went to school to eat my lunch and play football. I never really liked putting pen to paper.

“But people who struggle with reading and writing shouldn’t think that they can’t achieve things like this. It’s more than possible because I was that girl.

“You should have seen me when I got handed my level 2 certificate – it’s the first ever academic certificate I’ve ever had, and it was framed. I was jumping for joy.”

Kayla says her studies have reinvigorated her love for the job.

“Five years ago I was just coming to work to do the same thing over and over again, whereas now I have my own set of jobs to do and I always have new challenges.”

Lane Plastics owner and managing director Tony Miller had been encouraging Kayla to get qualified for a while, so he was pleased when she approached him to say she was ready.

As a die-setter she already had most of the skills needed to complete the programme, and just needed to fill a few knowledge gaps, Tony says.  

“Kayla’s got great attention to detail and is really good at planning ahead with jobs. As well as her die-setting duties, she looks after all of the raw materials and reminds me when stocks are getting low.”  

Tony supports Kayla through her on-the-job learning and allows her time to complete her theory during work hours.    

“Her skills have been at a high level for about five years now. The skills came first and now it’s time for the formal training.”   

Kayla is from a family of skilled tradies – her dad is an engineer and both of her brothers are qualified plumbers who have completed apprenticeships.

“When I saw my younger brother doing his bookwork, it made me realise it was time for me to do it too.

“And anyone can do it, it’s all about mindset. Just aim high and put your mind to it.” 

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