In a class full of fresh-faced electrical apprentices, 41-year-old Adam Check stands out but his age is not a drawback – if anything, it’s an advantage.
Mr Check, an apprentice electrician with Core Infrastructure Services, enrolled in Certificate III Electrotechnology at TAFE NSW after switching careers from earthmoving.
He is one of the many people TAFE NSW is training in the construction sector on the South Coast where bushfire recovery and a growing population has increased demand for workers.
Mr Check is not new to TAFE NSW, having trained and worked in the civil engineering field operating excavators and other plant equipment. He has also completed several plumbing-related courses.
A career in the earth moving industry gave him experience on work sites, particularly safety knowledge and the opportunity to see a lot of the country.
So why the career change?
“I was craving more – I wanted to get out of the machines and try something different, learn new skills,” Mr Check said.
His friendship with the director of Core Infrastructure Services, Dan Brown, led to a short stint as an electrical trade assistant on the South Coast before he was offered an apprenticeship.
Mr Brown believes in keeping a balance of mature-age and younger apprentices in the business – he sees it as a winning combination of youthful energy and level-headed experience.
“The older apprentices tend to fit into the workplace well from day one. Importantly, they also have an increased level of workplace safety awareness,” Mr Brown said.
“Older apprentices also bring other skills to the job, for example Adam is unique in that he has plant operator skills which come in handy in our line of work.”
He said older employees also have more self-confidence and are more established in their lives.
“They have family responsibilities and financial obligations so they tend to be more prepared to stay with the company,” Mr Brown said.
“Having a mix of young and older employees creates a good balance in the team.”
For Mr Check, the chance to start a new career came along at the right time.
“JobTrainer is making it easier for people who would previously have never considered retraining, to launch careers in the construction trades which is in need of skilled employees,” he said.
“This career change has reinvigorated me. It has given me a spark in the morning to go to work. I’m enjoying my training at TAFE NSW too.
“The teachers share years of industry experience and are good at helping us understand the theory and working with us to build our hands-on skills. It’s also great to be around the young apprentices – they’re a fun bunch.”