One of the largest cohorts to complete the TAFE NSW Lithgow Pre-Apprenticeship Program has just celebrated their graduation, with 26 local apprentices now ready to officially commence their apprenticeships in Lithgow’s high-demand industries, with EnergyAustralia, Centennial Coal and Thales all taking part in the program.
The Lithgow Regional Economic Development Strategy 2018-2022 indicates the mining, energy and manufacturing industries are key to the local economy, responsible for employing over 1,300 workers. It also identifies opportunities for these industries to leverage existing facilities to support the growth of the renewable energy sector and the mining of non-metallic minerals, ensuring local skills remain in high demand well into the future.
Sarah Battersby, the only female in this year’s pre-apprenticeship cohort, said she is excited to officially start her apprenticeship with EnergyAustralia.
“This program was a really good introduction to my new job, we learnt a lot of new things not just about our trade but about the other trades we’ll be working alongside as well,” Ms Battersby said.
“I’m a fitter apprentice and other than a little bit of welding at home with dad, this is all new to me.
“Over the last six months we’ve been very hands on with welding and electrical, and I’ve gotten a lot better at the practical skills so I’m not starting from scratch when I get to work.
“The teachers have been a great help and while I’m keen to get back to work, I’m also looking forward to coming back to TAFE as part of my apprenticeship.”
Electrician and Technician Team Leader at the Mt Piper Power Station, Ray Tang, said EnergyAustralia has been involved in this TAFE NSW program for over ten years.
“We had seven apprentices participate in the program this year, which has given them a really good head start before they begin working with us,” Mr Tang said.
“This program has a lot of merit and value for our industry and our apprentices, not only does it introduce them to the real world, but it also gives them experience in several different trade areas, so they start off with a good understanding of how we all work together.
“The safety component of the program aligns with our company’s focus on work, health, and safety, so they start their apprenticeship with that knowledge already ingrained in them.”
Lithgow Mayor, Maree Statham, attended the graduation ceremony on 28 June 2023, and praised the collective efforts of TAFE NSW and the local industries involved.
“The number of people in attendance at the graduation gave me goosebumps, it was a fantastic turn out,” Ms Statham said.
“TAFE NSW’s pre-apprenticeship program is such a positive and important program for our region, I look forward to seeing more of our employers getting involved and giving our young people a valuable head start to their careers.”