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Wyrallah mechanic gets back on his feet with TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW Wollongbar

Wyrallah mechanic gets back on his feet with TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW is training the next generation of automotive mechanics like third-year apprentice Nic McGraw, 19, of Wyrallah, who lost his possessions in February’s floods but is now working in his dream job.

Skills and trades are more critical than ever as it is estimated Australia will need up to a million workers with vocational qualifications by 2023.

According to a study by the National Centre of Vocational Education Research, 34 per cent of employers had jobs requiring vocational qualifications in 2019; of those employers, 72 per cent were satisfied that vocational qualifications provided their employees with the skills they needed for the job.

“If you get a trade, you can go anywhere in Australia with that,” Nic McGraw said.

Nic grew up working on cars with his family, left high school to study automotive mechanics at TAFE NSW Wollongbar in early 2020, and began applying his life-long passion for mechanics into the service and repair of vehicles.

“But half-way through my qualification back in February 2022 the floods hit around Lismore. My mother and I lost our house, everything inside the house, and one of our cars. We piled everything on the street for collection—it was tough.”

In the aftermath of the floods Nic found support and a new roof with friends, and credits working at GG Automotive Alstonville as part of his Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology as helping support his positive outlook towards his employability and future.

“Using my hands and mechanics appeals to me; I love it. I didn’t feel like a lot of high school was for me but with TAFE NSW I can learn real skills, apply it in my job, and get paid for it,” Nic McGraw said.

“I’ve been fixing engines, steering, suspension, cooling, ignition and brakes systems—you name it, we’re learning how to take it apart and fix it,” Nic McGraw said.

He won first place at the regional WorldSkills competition for light vehicle automotive mechanics at the end of September—giving him a shot at the national title next year in Melbourne.

TAFE NSW Wollongbar Acting Head Teacher Brett Farmer said TAFE NSW graduates had a reputation for being job ready, supplying specific automotive skills needed locally.

“Over the last year our automotive courses have seen students hit the ground running in businesses in Lismore, Ballina, Casino, Woodburn, and Broadwater allowing them to work locally,” Brett Farmer said.

Media contact: Reuben Fourt-Wells, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,