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Sail into your dream career; TAFE NSW course helps young Dad find his passion

TAFE NSW Meadowbank

Sail into your dream career; TAFE NSW course helps young Dad find his passion

A former pastry chef and father of two has urged people thinking of changing careers to consider a role in the maritime industry.

Douglas Allan was a qualified pastry chef and part owner in a flourishing Central Coast cupcake business before deciding to try something new.

The Wadalba local picked up a job washing and polishing boats while he worked out what to do next and fell in love with life on the water.

Four years on and Mr Allan, 27, is in the final year of his Shipwright apprenticeship and is the proud winner of the Boating Industry Association’s Apprentice of the Year award.

He credits the skills he’s learned in the Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction at TAFE NSW Meadowbank with giving him the confidence to succeed in the industry.

“I learnt so much from my teachers’ expertise in timber boat building that I’ve been able to apply on the job,” Mr Allan said.

“I had never touched an industry power tool before starting this course, learning timber work has definitely given me confidence and helped me get ahead in this industry.”

He said he’d love people to know that if they feel like they’re in the wrong profession, it’s never too late to give something else a go.

Mr Allan is now thriving in the new environment and loves the variety that comes with working on boats.

“Every day as a shipwright is different. I could be doing timber or silicone work, paint repairs or upgrading boat technology. Some days I spend the whole day on the water; I even travelled to Vanuatu this year to make specialist repairs.

“I’m so lucky to be able to work on beautiful boats making repairs and modifications and with a four year wait on new boats at the moment there’s a lot of work out there for people with those skills,” said Mr Allan.

For those considering a career in maritime in Australia, the sector has an estimated annual revenue of $9.55 billion, according to the Boating Industry Association, with 26,000 professionals and over 2,000 businesses operating in the recreational, superyacht and commercial marine sectors. 

Simon Don, Senior Sales Executive at the Sydney Riviera motor yacht dealership located at the Sydney Superyacht Marina, explains that the last couple of years has seen a real boom in the boating industry.

“There’s a lot of demand out there for trades and services in boating; the industry is crying out for shipwrights and mechanics, diesel mechanics and electricians and then there’s unfulfilled demand for professional and sales roles as well.

“We’re proud to work with Doug, and not at all surprised he was awarded apprentice of the year.

“His can-do attitude, coupled with the in-demand industry skills he’s learnt at TAFE NSW, make him an exceptional shipwright and an asset to the marine industry,” Mr Don said.

To learn more about the range of Maritime courses at TAFE NSW visit or phone 131 601. 

Media contact: Sarah Dibdin, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0404 291 238.