Menu Menu

Infrastructure skill set shapes entirely new career path

A three-week course with a one-week work placement has set one young South Metropolitan TAFE student’s life on a career-defining new trajectory.

Max Houlahan (18) of Myaree had completed year 11 and tried his hand at various trade-related studies, including bricklaying and motor trimming, but found his true calling in the construction industry when completing the Infrastructure Ready Skill Set at SM TAFE’s Thornlie campus.

Unlike certificate and diploma courses that are conducted over multiple semesters, skill sets such as this deliver fast track training that gets students skills-ready for jobs in construction and a wide range of other industry sectors.

For Mr Houlahan, employment as a trainee mains layer followed his one-week work experience placement with UrbanGrid Australia, who develop, operate and maintain Western Australia’s essential water, energy and communications networks as well as civil projects. They are a subsidiary of Downer Group, which is Australia’s largest provider of integrated services, opening up a whole new career path for Max.

Mr Houlahan’s employment success was forged after he visited and received valuable advice from the Jobs and Skills Centre in Rockingham when looking to move beyond a casual retail role into an industry in which he had a more passionate interest.

“I’m working as part of a crew preparing sites for the installation of mains gas lines, using hand tools or small earthmoving equipment, and get to work all over Perth,” Mr Houlahan said.

“I had no previous experience with this kind of work and the skill set course provided me with the basic knowledge of how to use various types of machinery, how to work safely on a worksite and what to expect when working on infrastructure projects.

“I felt confident starting this job because of the introduction to the industry through the skill set course, and now plan to build on my capabilities and experience over the next few years and become a skilled operator on major projects.

“Infrastructure is always being added to and upgraded, so I think the employment prospects in the long term will always be strong,” he said.

SM TAFE civil construction lecturer Paul Simonis said Mr Houlahan was a great example of a youngster seeking career direction and purpose finding a path in life by doing the Infrastructure Ready Skill Set course and attaining a work placement afterwards.

“The course is specifically designed for students with no or limited experience who wish to enter the civil construction industry.

“They acquire the knowledge and skills to work safely in the industry, communicate effectively on work sites and plan work in relation to infrastructure activities,” Mr Simonis said.

The Infrastructure Ready Skill Set course is free for 15 to 24-year-olds, or those who are receiving JobSeeker, JobKeeper, Youth Allowance, AUSTUDY or ABSTUDY payments, or concession cardholders.