Certificate III in Electrotechnology, Certificate IV in Industrial Electronics and Control and Diploma of Electrical Engineering

Making the switch and loving it

When Ben McDonald opted out of PE teaching at University he didn’t quite foresee that he’d be trading a career spent largely in the great outdoors for one spent 200 metres underground. But that’s the reality for Ben and he’s loving the switch.

“I finished school in 2010 and got a good ATAR so I thought I’d give University a crack and did PE. But University just wasn’t for me—it was too theoretical,” said Ben. Casting around for an alternative, Ben spoke to his Dad and a couple of mates who were electricians, and liked what he heard. He deferred University, applied for an apprenticeship through Hunter Valley Training Company and has now landed a job as an Electrotechnician at Peabody Energy North Wambo Underground Coal Mine.

“Mining is a really unique industry and I love it,” said Ben. “I know that working underground isn’t for everyone but to me that’s what makes it so special. The mine is a good and fun place to work and I’m part of a great team. We work hard, support each other, and get along together really well.”

Since completing his Certificate III Ben has excelled in the additional studies he has undertaken, completing his Certificate IV in Industrial Electronics and Control and a Diploma of Electrical Engineering. His commitment and dedication has been recognised with a number of awards and a Cessnock City Council scholarship to pursue academic excellence in mine-related trades, services and occupations.

Ben cites as the essential ingredients for success being willing to listen, learn and ask lots of questions, “even if you ask the same thing 100 times. Lastly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone has at some stage and that’s how you learn.”

Ben says he wants to throw himself into as many roles as he can and build up his experience with a view to perhaps becoming a leading hand or an electrical engineer. He also wants to be a strong advocate for vocational education and training.

“Apprenticeships are very diverse and offer so many more practical options than a University degree,” said Ben. “Often you’ll find trades people are much better equipped to hit the ground running than graduates because they’ve had quality on the job exposure and experience. I really think apprenticeships are the way of the future.”

If you are interested in an Australian Apprenticeship and how to get started, download An Australian Apprenticeship - Endless Career Possibilities brochure or contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

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