CDU's apprentice numbers follow NT's construction boom 

First-year carpentry students busy at the Alice Springs campus

Mature-age carpentry apprentice John Glasson learns his trade

Confidence in the building sector, government incentives and greater industry recognition of training have sparked a boom in carpentry apprentices at Charles Darwin University.

Both Alice Springs and Casuarina campuses have added extra classes to accommodate apprentices training in the NT’s lucrative construction sector.

Alice Springs-based VET lecturer Chris Wilkinson said the construction industry was embracing training after many years of viewing it as a costly exercise.

“Most people in industry have got to the point where they realise the need to train staff if they want to retain them and maintain a high skills base,” he said.

“I’ve seen a real cultural change over the last few years that is now seeing more students coming through."

This view is shared by Casuarina-based VET carpentry lecturer Fred Degering, who said extra classes were added recently to cope with the growth.

“We have expanded, but could easily take on more students,” he said.

Mature-age apprentice John Glasson, who is based in Alice Springs, reflects the new face of apprentices entering a trade.

The 38-year-old said a career spent building houses was more appealing than selling hardware, so he switched to a carpentry apprenticeship.

“I worked on the other side of the fence for 10 years selling products and decided to get involved in the practical side of things and I’m thoroughly enjoying it,” he said.

Nicky Gallas, human resource manager of Alice Springs-based company ProBuild NT, said the company was getting more enquiries from local students willing to take on apprenticeships.

“With a huge shortage of qualified tradespeople, we are hunting interstate workers but it’s really encouraging to see more locals seeing the huge opportunities in trades,” she said.