Vocational award recognises dedication to training

Monday, 14 July 2008

An unswerving commitment to training has seen oil and gas worker, Jeremy Walker, win Challenger TAFE’s top Vocational award.

The Yokine resident, who has been working as a fly-in, fly-out Production Technician for Apache Energy since completing his studies last year, says he would not have joined the booming resources industry if he had put off making the hard decision to drop out of university.

“I started a Psychology degree after Year 12, but it soon became obvious that it just wasn’t the right career for me as I preferred working with people rather than analysing them,” he explained.

“I was keen to take up a trade so I went to TAFE to do a pre-apprenticeship and then moved onto training at the Kwinana Skills Centre before finally coming to the Australian Centre for Energy and Process Training (ACEPT) at Challenger TAFE to complete my Certificate IV in Process Plant Operations.

“All up I’ve been training for over five years, but it’s been well worth the effort as I gained a dual trade qualification, and my block release from ACEPT included working with Apache Energy.”

Despite finding his process plant training somewhat daunting at first, Jeremy soon became fascinated with the mental and practical demands associated with the course.

“Learning about compressors and turbines, furnaces and boilers, took me right out of my comfort zone, as I was starting from scratch,” he explained.

“But being in a situation where your learning is all about fault-finding and troubleshooting is very satisfying.”

Jeremy is now based on Apache’s Stag Platform, and his supervisor and Offshore Installation Manager, Ian Grant, says that he is already proving himself to be a versatile and valued employee.

“Although Jeremy was an apprentice until the end of last year, he still performed very much as a fully-fledged tradesman, and has already assisted in training some of the less experienced trainees on the rig,” he said.

“Apache fully supports training organisations like ACEPT at Challenger TAFE, and with products such as Jeremy, he really exemplifies the type of technician we want on board.”

Jeremy’s obviously excited at working in a boom industry, especially when talking about what the future holds for his career.

“Plants and facilities are popping up all over the state at the moment and that’s making extra and diverse demands on skilled workers involved in the construction, commissioning and maintenance,” he said.

“Starting my career in the midst of such a boom, means that I’m faced with a myriad of opportunities and challenges. There are so many choices available to move my career forward and there definitely seem to be more training opportunities during this productive time.

“Employers are keen to hold on to their good workers, so I’m in a great position to maximise my skills and knowledge by keeping along the training track I started at ACEPT.”

With a priority on keeping his skills up-to-date, Jeremy will ensure that he continues to be very employable, even if and when the boom does subside.

“My ambitions are to continue learning and growing as a person in my role as a production technician in the oil and gas industry both locally and overseas,” he continued.

“I’m also keen to better understand the role I play in Apache’s success and learn better and more environmentally-friendly processes to ensure future environmental sustainability.”

The training Jeremy received at ACEPT has clearly been a great preparation for him entering the industry and he’s made significant efforts to pass on the benefits to younger generations.

“Throughout my studies I’ve been involved in giving talks to Padbury Primary School, as there’s not much opportunity for younger children to learn about the vocational career pathways open to them,” he explained.

“It’s a great opportunity to really open their eyes about the opportunities on offer, and the girls are especially surprised to hear there’s more to the oil and gas sector than just the ‘black’ trades.”

Jeremy’s influence on the younger generation has also had an impact at home where his younger brother has changed careers in favour of an oil and gas pathway and is due to start at ACEPT in Semester Two.

“I think once my brother saw the benefits of my training, he knew that it could work for him too, especially when I explained how practical and straightforward the lecturing staff are,” Jeremy said.

“Training at ACEPT is definitely the way to go for getting well-qualified and ready for work in the oil and gas industry. It really prepares you for a workplace that expects its employees to be aware of current industry practice and be familiar with the equipment and processes involved in the trade.”

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