Sought after apprentices – TAFE NSW Orange

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3 November 2021

TAFE NSW metal fabrication apprentices Makaela Hobson and Kate Marchington are both forging successful careers in an industry in which only 1 per cent of workers are female.

Although according to their boss, Orange Precision Metalcraft’s managing director, Mark Thompson, gender had nothing to do with these two getting a job.

“They applied for the job and were the best candidates for the job,” Mr Thompson said.

“We’ve been employing TAFE NSW trainees and apprentices since 1974 – when we first opened the doors. TAFE NSW provides training that is industry-relevant and practical, and it’s essential our workers have those foundational skills before they walk onto the workshop floor.”

Makaela, a 26-year-old fourth-year apprentice, and Kate, a 33-year-old first-year apprentice, are both undertaking a Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade at TAFE NSW Orange.

Makaela had her sights set on being a heavy diesel mechanic until she attended a Try a Trade apprenticeship program at TAFE NSW and decided she wanted to become a boiler maker.

“I love engineering – it really puts me out of my comfort zone. I’m not very mathematical, so the TAFE NSW course and the work itself is challenging me and helping me develop new skills,” Makaela said.

“The work is both physical and mental so it’s always interesting. One day I can be working in a team making structural steelwork for a large company and the next day I will be working by myself making handrails for a residential home.

“I love creating things and it’s not repetitive – you’re learning all the time and constantly applying new skills.”

Mr Thomspon said his business takes pride in helping to shape and grow TAFE NSW apprentices.

“From the outside looking in, it looks like everyone is doing similar work, but our engineering workshop and our clients are unique. We are a multi-faceted team and our people need to learn a diverse range of skills,” he said.

“Developing our own workforce from the ground up has always worked well for us and employing and growing local people helps our town and our economy.”

In June 2021, the National Skills Commission produced the latest Skills Priority List, which details skills shortages in the Australian labour market, and it predicted strong future demand for metal fabricators and welders.

Makaela said she wasn’t a fan of school, but TAFE NSW provided an environment that allowed her to develop and learn.

“TAFE NSW taught me all the basic skills and the right safety techniques in a way that I can understand and process,” Makaela said.

“The TAFE NSW teachers break everything down, give real examples, demonstrate how to work on the tools, and even make maths easier! There’s also the opportunity to work and learn in groups and you’re supported the whole way.

“TAFE NSW was an excellent pathway for me and I think it’s a great start to any career.”

Explore hundreds of traineeships and apprenticeships at TAFE NSW and pursue your passion with life-changing training. For more information visit www.tafensw.edu.au.

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Makaela Hobson (left) and Kate Marchington from Orange Precision Metalcraft
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