7 Jul 2017
At 69 years of age, heavy vehicle apprentice, Keith Middleton has proven that you’re never too old to stop learning. The Dayboro local, who holds a lifetime of experience within the automotive industry, is now on his way to becoming a formally qualified heavy vehicle mechanic.
Keith was supported by his employer, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) who encouraged him to complete the qualification, recognising that their employee had the skills set, capabilities and aptitude to become professionally qualified within the industry. QFES also believed that encouraging and supporting Keith was not only beneficial for his personal and professional growth, but also supported their organisational culture that aims to give back to their employees.
Keith admits that whilst at first he had reservations about returning to study, after a visit from TAFE Queensland SkillsTech heavy commercial vehicle teacher, Paul Darwin, he was able to see how simple the process really is. Keith was able to sit down with Paul to work out if there were any gaps in his existing knowledge and experience, then put together a training plan to fulfil those training gaps. Paul explains that “typically, if there are no gaps, a student can get signed off on the entire qualification straight away. It really is that simple”.
Data sourced from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection (2016) shows that mature apprentices now represent around 28 per cent of trade apprenticeships and the numbers are growing. Mature-aged apprenticeships can be a great opportunity for people looking for employment or simply wanting a career change. Many businesses today are also encouraging employees to pursue formal qualifications due to the large growth opportunities available.
Keith’s Certificate III in Heavy Vehicle Mechanical Technology was funded through the Australian Government’s Trade Skills Assessment and Gap training program which provides eligible Queenslanders, who already have industry experience, the opportunity to complete a priority trade qualification. This means that the out of pocket costs for the employer are minimal, and if no gap training is needed, the full qualification comes at no cost at all to the employer. Support is also available for both employees and businesses through programs like the Support for Adult Australian Apprentices Initiative which provides up to $4,000 in financial support to employers who take on an adult apprentice in trade areas listed on the National Skills Needs List.
Keith’s classmates and teachers have become extremely fond of his charismatic and cheeky nature where he openly calls it how he sees it. “I’m noted for saying what I think and how it is; that’s just the puppy I am”, said Keith. His teacher, Paul Darwin said that the younger apprentices really took to Keith as a positive role model and someone that they could really look up to.
Like many others who have spent years working in roles without gaining formal qualifications, Keith wanted recognition for the work he had being doing all his life. He wanted to prove that he knew what he was doing and wanted to be respected for that. Keith is a strong believer that there is no such thing as the word can’t and is fair dinkum proof that you are never too old to stop learning.
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