Certificate III in Carpentry and Joinery

Proving the doubters wrong

“You’ll never make a living out of it”. Such were the words of the naysayers to Robert Southwell when he told people about his plans to become a mature aged apprentice at the age of 24. “I told them I can—and I am,” laughed Robert, who is justifiably pleased with proving the doubters wrong by forging a successful career in carpentry.

Robert has always had a ‘soft spot’ for wood. As a kid growing up in New Zealand he loved playing in his Dad’s woodpile and making things and he felt his destiny was to be a carpenter. However a divergence from this path saw him doing a degree in Building Science and Project Management at Victoria University in Wellington, before coming to Perth and taking a job as a labourer.

“There wasn’t much going on in New Zealand so I thought I’d try my luck in Australia,” said Robert. “Being given the opportunity to do an apprenticeship by the Apprentice and Traineeship Company in Perth I knew I was on the right track for success.”

Having recently finished his apprenticeship, Robert is now working as a junior site manager with construction company PS Structures, following in the footsteps of some of the mentors that have helped him achieve his goals. Robert’s next goal in life is to become a certified builder.

“Thanks to the practical experience and knowledge I’ve gained through my apprenticeship I’m already a couple of years ahead of where I thought I’d be,” he said. “Rather than being stuck in a classroom with a head in a text book I’m on-site all the time learning and doing hands-on work and I’ve now got a much greater depth of knowledge which in turn has helped my confidence.”

Robert says that one of the things he most appreciates about his work is the sense of accomplishment he has at the end of the day when he takes a minute to look at what he’s achieved. “That’s what’s so great about doing a trade. Your work is tangible, it’s real, and you can look forward to building on that tomorrow. For me, doing an apprenticeship has been one of the best experiences of my life. It has helped me ten times more than my degree. I’d recommend it to anyone.”

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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