Katherine apprentices to master trades faster

KATHERINE apprentice Brendan Gower has a simple answer to the question of how he is finding an innovative new program designed to get him work-ready sooner.

“I love it,” he said.

Mr Gower, 21, is taking part in a groundbreaking training program  that aims to give participants the equivalent of 12 months’ skills and knowledge, in addition to a Certificate III in Engineering, in just 21 weeks.

After a successful pilot in 2013, the program began in August and is a joint partnership between Charles Darwin University’s Katherine Rural Campus, Group Training NT, the Northern Territory government’s Department of Business and  the Katherine Mining Services Association.

Participants live at the campus for the duration of the program, which includes four intensive, one-week placements at businesses in Katherine.

Mr Gower said that, although the accelerated structure of the program was “a bit full on”, he was pleased it allowed him to obtain a qualification without leaving the region.

“If I’m in the NT [doing my apprenticeship], I’m close to family,” he explained.

“It’s good.”

TRADE BOOST: Apprentices Brendan Gower and Tyla Hill praise the format of the new program.

TRADE BOOST: Apprentices Brendan Gower and Tyla Hill praise the format of the new program.

Fellow apprentice Tyla Hill, 19, praised the program as a way to get a glimpse at all engineering-based trades.

“It’s also good if you don’t know what you want to be,” he said.

“You get to look at all the trades [during the 21 weeks].”

CDU’s head of the school of trades, Justin Busse, said the program had “so far been a success”, adding that he believed it could have an impact on how future apprenticeships were delivered across the NT.

“The fact that we have made it a live-in arrangement, like a mine site, has been a great move forward to getting students job ready but also job fit,” he said.”

“It has also brought together a mix of students where they need to support and be there for each other, so I think we underestimated the personal development the program would do for the students.”