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Keeping it local - TAFE NSW Dubbo celebrates 20 years of putting heavy vehicle mechanics in the driving seat


Keeping it local - TAFE NSW Dubbo celebrates 20 years of putting heavy vehicle mechanics in the driving seat

30 March, 2021 

TAFE NSW Dubbo’s heavy automotive vehicle section this year celebrates its 20th anniversary of training hundreds of apprentices for a sector which is critically short of staff.  

With only about 30 per cent of Australian heavy vehicle mechanical vacancies being filled, Dubbo's program has played a key role in helping young people from NSW’s west gain the necessary qualifications to work on large machinery, agricultural equipment and heavy vehicles.  

From a strong start of 26 students in 2001, Dubbo’s heavy automotive training section has boomed. This year, the program welcomed 85 first-year apprentices. Qualification courses include Certificate IIIs in Mobile Plant Technology, Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology and Agricultural Mechanical Technology.  

Automotive Head Teacher Paul Chaseling said approaches by local industry representatives triggered the establishment of the Dubbo-based heavy vehicle training program.  

“Our local industry employers lobbied former head teacher Allan Moeller and teacher Rob Rainbow to start the heavy automotive program, as they wanted to recruit staff and retain second - and third-year heavy vehicle apprentices who at the time faced a long commute to complete their training in either Tamworth or Sydney,” Mr Chaseling said.  

“The first-year apprentices studied general automotive skills here but had to relocate to specialise in heavy automotive after that.” 

Ken Comerford from Dubbo’s Hydraulics and Tractor Service was one of several local businesspeople who lobbied for the heavy automotive training program. Others included Inland Truck Services’ Cliff Swane and Graham Davis from Caterpillar dealer Gough and Gilmore. 

“After losing a couple of outstanding potential mechanics who were unable to travel the long distances for training, we met with the TAFE NSW team and promised that if they could get a local heavy automotive program, we would help out by donating engines and parts to build a bank of equipment for the students to work on,” Mr Comerford said. 

This partnership between TAFE NSW and industry has remained strong over the two decades, with many local businesses committed to employing apprentices in addition to donating machinery for students to hone their skills.  

For more information about heavy vehicle automotive courses available at TAFE NSW Dubbo, visit or phone 131 601. 


Media contact: Jenny Tinworth, Communications Specialist, mobile 0411 443 555.