Energy Queensland adopts new apprenticeship model with the AITC
Energy Queensland (Energex and Ergon) offers coveted apprenticeships, with an average of 460 talented apprentices across the state. The company expanded its apprenticeship model when they took on four AITC young people in school-based apprenticeships. Energy Queensland had never previously accepted school-based apprentices into their apprentice recruitment program. However, after two years of work experience placements and ongoing feedback and support, the AITC school-based apprenticeship model is now part of the Energy Queensland recruitment process.
Jon Haynes, Queensland Apprentice and Training Manager for Energy Queensland, says in the electrical trades they are looking for people with a high level of aptitude and a “head for maths”. Apart from that “we’re looking for people with great communication skills as we work in small teams.”
With AITC’s first four young people in the apprenticeship program the feedback has been resoundingly positive. “They’ve got a greater level of understanding about the role,” says Jon. “They’ve come to us with some hand skills and some experience in the workplace. I’d like to see them develop and become great tradespeople with us.”
Matt Lawrence, Energy Queensland, Technical Training Officer agrees, “They’re actually excellent. You can tell they’ve been trained and they’ve taken everything in their stride so far and done really well. We’re appreciative to be part of it and I think they’re going to turn out to be great tradespeople.”
He admits, “Initially when I heard about the school-based program I was a little bit sceptical. I thought maybe kids still at school are a little bit young to be taking this on. Previously all of our apprentices have finished school prior to taking on an apprenticeship. But if these are an example of who is going to come through then it’s a great step.”
These young people are paving the way for future AITC young people to secure a school-based apprenticeship with one of Queensland’s largest employers of apprentices. The team of four will be undergoing approximately 36 months of comprehensive training for an Electrical Fitter Mechanic (EFM). This training will focus on building, repairing and maintaining electricity infrastructure — overhead, underground and substation power supply equipment.
- Ewan Aitken from Redlands campus will be working at the Greenslopes depot as an electrician
- Jordan Peters from Redlands will be working at the Cleveland Depot as a distribution linesman
- Alisha DiRuggiero from Toowoomba will be working at the Toowoomba depot as an electrician
- Chevy Brown from the Sunshine Coast campus will be working from the Maroochydore depot as an electrician.
During the apprentice induction, Jon Haynes (Queensland Apprentice and Training Manager for Energy Queensland) said to the four successful AITC young people, “You are the first of what we hope will be an ongoing relationship with Energy Queensland as part of our annual recruitment process.”
The whole business “is like a big family”, explains Jon. “We’ve got a dedicated group of 20 people who look after our apprenticeship program on a daily basis.” These dedicated people “see themselves as a mentor and even as a quasi-parent sometimes. They’re well looked after and well supported.”
When they were chosen to be part of the program our four young people were thrilled. “It felt exhilarating,” says Chevy. “We felt privileged, it was amazing to be chosen,” agrees Ewan. “Being selected is a great opportunity and very special,” says Alisha, “I think we’re all very grateful to be here.”
Alisha DiRuggiero initially heard about the opportunity through a Girl Power information day in Toowoomba. “They had a lot of information about females in the trade and I was offered work experience from that,” explains Alisha. “I did the work experience with a line crew in Toowoomba, applied for an apprenticeship, and got a job.”
Currently in Brisbane, Rocklea, working on initial training for induction to Energy Queensland Alisha would like to explore all the branches of the EFM trade. She will be doing customer connections — metering, switchboards, and can also go into substations from there. “I am interested in substations and then from that I’m thinking further down the track I’d like to go into engineering.”
Starting off on her career trajectory it is essential to obtain the Year 12 Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). “If I don’t get my QCE at the end of my schooling then my employment here is completely terminated. You do need it to progress further in your training,” Alisha explains.
Jon reinforces the importance of finishing Year 12. “That’s absolutely critical. We won’t consider any students leaving school who don’t have their QCE and have completed Year 12. The aptitude is critical, so we really want kids who have knuckled down and studied hard, particularly with their science, English and maths subjects.”
Working with Energy Queensland “you can build a career for life,” explains Jon. “You really can’t get any better than starting a trade apprenticeship out of school. So few kids seem to consider that option these days.”
Alisha explored different trades at the AITC before finding her career path. She advises others to do the same—be enthusiastic and work hard. “Don’t be scared. Honestly — that doesn’t just apply to females, that’s everyone. Don’t be scared. Go for it. You never know if you don’t try.”
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