BEST APPRENTICES: Lockyer tradies reveal secret to success
Have you hired a tradie, had your haircut or even played golf in the past week? It’s highly likely there was an apprentice on the team that assisted you. The Gatton Star chats with rising apprentices in the Lockyer to find out why they wanted to do their apprenticeships, and what makes them so great.
KASEY BOSEL – LOCKYER AUTOMOTIVE – MECHANIC
An apprentice female mechanic in a male-dominated industry doesn’t mind proving judging eyes wrong – especially when it comes to diagnosing a car problem.
Kasey Bosel is in her third-year mechanic apprenticeship at Lockyer Automotive and is the only woman on the team.
But Kasey doesn‘t let outdated gender norms stand in the way of a career she loves, her passion for four-wheel drives and fixing cars runs deep, and she’s got mentors backing her along the way.
“I get misjudged a lot, but I turn around and show them up,” she said.
Kasey grew up around trucks and 4x4 vehicles, following in the footsteps of her father and brothers.
At school, she completed a certificate in automotive, which led her towards her mechanic apprenticeship.
“There are not too many chicks getting around in 4x4s that are mechanics,” she laughed.
With about a year and a half to go in her trade, Kasey’s future plans involve completing her diesel mechanic qualifications.
From there, Kasey wants to work on a station as a jillaroo but said she would probably end up fixing and driving trucks.
“I’ve always wanted to go work on a station, but now I’ve got these trades I might not get to work with the cattle,” she said.
For the meantime, it’s learning from experienced mechanics, and demonstrating women can take on men’s roles.
“There are so many times that cars have turned up here with two or three other mechanic’s diagnosis, and Garry goes and has a look and tells me what’s wrong,” Kasey said.
“And he’s usually right.”
Kasey said she likes knowing she’s in a workshop where the team doesn’t “stuff around” and puts their heart and soul into fixing cars.
DACODA KIRBY – GATTON JUBILEE GOLF CLUB – SPORTS TURF
Having been caught on the wrong side of the law, Dacoda Kirby says his apprenticeship has provided him the pathway to be the best person he can be.
Dacoda is in his final year of his sports turf apprenticeship at the Gatton Jubilee Golf Club and will graduate from his role in May this year.
“I’ve been caught more times than I can count (but) the apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to really wake up and stop taking myself for granted,” he said.
“It’s given me the road to mature and be the best person I can be.”
After trying house cleaning and meatworks positions, Dacoda realised being indoors wasn’t the job for him.
“I love it, it’s more of a lifestyle than work. I couldn’t picture being in an office,” Dacoda said.
His job involves watching grass grow – then mowing it to perfection.
“Presentation is the biggest thing, that’s mainly what my job is – making the course look the best it can,” he said.
“It’s pretty cool watching grass grow, it’s better than watching paint dry that’s for sure.”
Dacoda isn’t a golfer, but enjoys seeing the members take to the greens each weekend.
“To see the members come out and play and that they’re happy with the course – that makes you feel good,” he said.
The ongoing drought has pushed Dacoda and the golf committee this year, but luckily bore water has kept the tees and greens alive.
With just two months to go in his apprenticeship, Dacoda hopes he can stay at the club.
“I’d love to stay here but it‘s up to management,” he said.
“The town has always been at my heart – it‘s not really a job to me, it’s part of my lifestyle, who I am, and what I want to be.”
LIAM KAMMHOLZ – GATTON MEAT CENTRE – BUTCHER
Second-year butcher apprentice Liam Kammholz has learned more skills in two months than he ever imagined learning.
The Lockyer Valley 25-year-old is doing his apprenticeship at the Gatton Meat Centre, under the watchful eye of owner Joel Schmidt.
Liam originally started his apprenticeship in Booval but made the move to Gatton in late 2020 to avoid a “toxic” work environment.
“Joel gave me an opportunity and I took it. I’ve never met such a positive work environment,” Liam said.
“I’ve learned things I never thought I would accomplish until I was in my final year or a qualified butcher.”
Liam’s post-high school plan was to study palaeontology, but when he didn’t meet the requirements he followed in his brothers’ footsteps.
In his second year, Liam has learned the art of boning chickens, as well as dressing trays.
“I was never normally allowed to use my knife or perform any type of boning at my old job,” Liam said.
Liam’s main goal is to become a qualified butcher, then to eventually look at opening his own business.
He said anyone interested in studying an apprenticeship to become a butcher should “give it a try”.
“I was nervous beyond belief when I started my apprenticeship, but after a while, you start to enjoy it quite a lot,” he said.
“And if you’re around the right people, you never want to leave.”
Liam said for people considering apprenticeships to not be afraid of failure.
He said fear of failure was one of the reasons he was “so late” in starting his apprenticeship.
“It’s OK to make mistakes, making a mistake is natural and it’s what you learn from and take away from that mistake to learn and move on,” he said.
“You can’t grow without failure, processing it and moving forward.”
TIARNAH NEWTON – HAIR WITH SOUL – HAIRDRESSER
One snip can completely ruin a haircut.
But despite hairdressing being “terrifying”, it’s an “amazing” career pathway for Tiarnah Newton.
Having moved around after school, Tiarnah moved back to the Lockyer Valley where she found so many opportunities to restart her apprenticeship.
She initially started at Hair with Soul doing Tea and Tidy – which means what it says – she gets tea and tidies the salon.
But after moving around and struggling to find an apprenticeship further north, she returned to the guidance of Melissa McCartin from Hair with Soul.
“I thought hairdressing was a trade that can take you anywhere,” Tiarnah said.
“I can be anywhere in the world and still work – there are so many possibilities.”
At present, Tiarnah focuses on basic men’s cuts but has started learning the art of cutting women’s hair through her TAFE course.
She’s able to do regrowth and all-over colours but foiling and bleaching will have to wait for more experience.
“I enjoy learning the different styles of cuts, and as scary as it is, you can make one cut and it can ruin the whole thing,” Tiarnah said.
Currently, in her second year, the 20-year-old said TAFE “throws you in the deep end”.
“It’s terrifying but amazing, there are so many possibilities with women’s cuts,” she said.
In her spare time, Tiarnah is studying to be a lash technician and plans to work as a hairdresser.
“Ideally, it’s hairdressing for a few years – I don’t want to be a business lady,” she said.
JACOB WEEKES – ENERGEX – LINESPERSON
Jacob Weekes always thought he wanted to be an electrician – and never really looked up at the power lines.
But today, it’s not uncommon for the apprentice linesman to be suspended 20 meters in the air fixing power poles and cables.
Jacob is in his third-year apprenticeship with Energex as an overhead distribution linesperson.
Originally hailing from Ma Ma Creek, he was one of 18 out of 3000 that applied for a mid-year apprenticeship in 2018.
“I never knew about it until I started TAFE. They brought in Energex people to talk to us about what they did,” he said.
“I just thought I’d be an electrician; I didn’t look up and see the power lines.”
Jacob said he was the first locally employed apprentice for the Gatton depot and would love to stay on when he completes his training.
“I’ve gained more experience than I would have at a city depot,” he said.
There’s a big attraction for equipment, with Energex putting Jacob through this truck and forklift licensing.
“There’s so much cool equipment. You can be up 20 meters in the air in a bucket working on powerlines,” he said.
“When you first go up you can be a bit unsure, but after a while you don’t even notice.
Any given day, Jacob can be fixing and replacing power lines, installing new poles, or cleaning up after storms where trees have fallen across the wires.
He said studying a certificate II TAFE course prior to his apprenticeship helped with the transition.
“Do the prerequisite TAFE courses, it gives you the starting knowledge for your trade,” he said.
“And with any apprenticeship – stay off your phone – tradesmen are willing and wanting to teach if you’re interested.”
MITCH HARM – OZLAV PLUMBING – PLUMBER
Mitch Harm is the master of a shovel.
In the first year as an apprentice plumber, he says there’s plenty of shovelling and unclogging drains.
But for the 19-year-old, it’s exactly what he wanted to do.
Mitch is a first-year apprentice with Ozlav Plumbing in Gatton and started his trade career in August 2019.
He was working at the former Vandy’s Water Solutions when Ozlav owner Troy approached him about an apprenticeship.
“It’s always something I wanted to do, especially plumbing,” Mitch said.
Mitch started his butcher apprentice while at school but said slicing and dicing meat wasn’t for him.
At the end of the four-year plumbing apprenticeship, he aims to complete a two-year gas certification.
“It’s a common pathway. There’s a lot of people who do it because it‘s only another two years if you do it within six months of finishing your apprenticeship,” he said.
As a first-year apprentice, Mitch is tasked with fixing taps, unclogging drains and digging.
“There’s a lot of digging in the first year – you’re the digger,” he laughed.
“And a lot of unclogging toilets, but you get used to the smell after a while.”
As an apprentice plumber, Mitch says no two days are the same.
“Every job you go to is different. It might be the same sort of thing, but it’s a different problem to solve – you’re always thinking and always on your feet.”
For anyone aspiring to start an apprenticeship, Mitch said it takes a conversation and getting your name out there.
“It takes a walk in the door with a resume in the hand and starting a conversation,” he said.
“You just have to get your name out there – don’t dabble on it if you don’t get one in the first couple of attempts.”
HAMISH LUCAN – LVRC – DIESEL FITTER
Three days after finishing Year 12, Hamish Lucan jumped into an apprenticeship and has loved every minute since.
The 18-year-old secured an apprenticeship with the Lockyer Valley Regional Council as a diesel fitter and said so far, he is “loving everything”.
During his high schooling at Lockyer District State High School, Hamish completed work experience in the council’s maintenance yard.
He said the work experience, plus studying automotive as a Year 12 subject, encouraged his passion to become a diesel fitter.
“Council has so many different vehicles in the fleet that it just keeps your mind going, and you learn different things,” he said.
Not only did Hamish start his four-year apprenticeship straight out of school, but he also started a week before his 18th birthday.
“I was pretty lucky to walk straight into a job straight out of school … and with COVID, it’s hard for kids to get motivated to apply for them,” Hamish said.
Hamish said his apprenticeship involves attending Tafe four weeks of the year and expects to finish his course in November 2024.
“You get a qualification and something out of it. You’ve got a trade for life and you can go anywhere with it,” Hamish said.
“I’m liking everyone, the boys in the workshop are the best.”
JAMES CUNNINGHAM – GATTON MEAT CENTRE – BUTCHER
Becoming a butcher has been a lifelong goal for James Cunningham.
He follows a family line of butchers and is the fourth generation in his family to learn the trade.
James, 19, will start his second-year apprenticeship at the Gatton Meat Centre in March, and said he “loves” his job.
“This was my first job, three months after school I got into it and I’ve been loving it ever since,” he said.
“It’s been a lifetime goal, we’ve had three generations of the family become butchers – my mum, dad, her parents, brother and great grandfather.”
James graduated from Laidley State High School, and said he was enjoying getting paid to learn.
“I’ve always been that sort of person that wants to use their hands to do manual labour,” he said.
“I’d rather be out doing a trade than sitting in a classroom.”
Although using knives can be dangerous, James said he has learned a lot with the Gatton team.
“I love learning all the cuts of meat, all the knives and learning how to cut,” he said.