Melissa Bellingham, Donna Howard and Majella Sollars with Shelley’s Industries’ Tom Dwan, Alexander Manfield, Andrew Laws, Shaun McKey, (back) Bruce Shelley, Jason Marriage, Dennis Glandille and Neil Steketee.
Melissa Bellingham, Donna Howard and Majella Sollars with Shelley’s Industries’ Tom Dwan, Alexander Manfield, Andrew Laws, Shaun McKey, (back) Bruce Shelley, Jason Marriage, Dennis Glandille and Neil Steketee. Emma Channon

Apprenticeships for all ages

NEIL Steketee is not your average apprentice.

The boilermaker has an impressive 33 years of experience under his belt, having started at Shelley's Industries when he was 17 years old.

But the practised tradesman has realised the importance of having a qualification under your belt and he - along with six others and one trainee - have begun their training to achieve just that.

"I started here in 1979 and had a couple of jobs before then," Mr Steketee said.

"It will be good to have the qualifications and it should only take three months."

Between them, the apprentice employees have a vast 80 years experience between them.

Employer and Shelley's Industry owner Bruce Shelley said the group wanted to finish apprenticeships to gain the "formal qualifications".

"They are skills that they already have," he said.

"Some of them are a bit dubious; Neil's good with his hands but doesn't like the theory side - although he realises the benefits.

"It's another string to the bow (for them) and the way things are going, having it means you can go anywhere."

Although apprenticeships for the fabrication trade usually last four years, it will take just three-12 months for the more experienced employees to gain their qualifications.

Now, the group are encouraging other businesses and their employees to consider completing apprenticeships, even if they are veterans in their trade.

Busy at Work Apprenticeships Services industry training consultant Donna Howard said there were only benefits for the businesses involved.

"This is open for any businesses - existing workers are able to get a qualification and it's funded by state and federal governments," she said.

"If businesses take on school-based trainees and apprentices, the money from the state government pays their wages so (employers) aren't out of pocket.

"It is basically like having another set of hands."

Tom Dwan is undertaking his traineeship in engineering production while studying at Warwick State High School, while Scots PGC student Shaun McKey has begun his apprenticeship too.

But Ms Howard said apprenticeships weren't only for those starting out in their chosen industries.

"Most people think it is," she said.

"It's fantastic we could do this for Bruce and the business, and it's open for anyone. There are over 700 different qualifications people can enter into."

Scots PGC's Melissa Bellingham said there were about 30 students in line for apprenticeships next year.

Warwick State High School's Majella Sollars said she'd encourage businesses to consider taking on school-based trainees or apprentices.

"Particularly in areas where there are skills shortages like boiler making, fitting and turning," she said.

More information at Donna Howard on 0408 370 419.



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