8th August 2012
Engineering Apprenticeships – Exciting Engineering
Engineering is a large and very diverse industry – so large in fact that the variety and types of jobs are almost endless. In order to give relevant and accurate information on how to get into engineering apprenticeships I want to focus on three main areas: Engineering Fabrication (Boilermaker); Engineering Mechanical (Fitter), and; Engineering Drafting (CAD).
Engineering Fabrication is an extremely popular trade for young apprentices – working with metal, grinding welding and constructing equipment from raw metal plate, steel or pipe. What more would a young person like? Creating and maintaining equipment from small items up to the large earth moving machinery.
Don’t let the sound of this job fool you, this position is the complete package which push all who decide to try it to great length. It is not just welding and grinding, you will need to be able to read computer drawings, be exact in your attention to detail and be able to work to timelines that meet production deadlines.
Engineering Mechanical (Fitter Machinist in NSW) (Fitter and Turner in QLD) once again is another popular trade that young people want to follow. Working with raw metal, forming it into different shapes using lathes, mills and other industry equipment is exciting to watch. This particular position has boundless opportunity for growth in your career. There are three main areas to follow: maintenance/assembly fitter; fluid power hydraulics and pneumatics, or; CNC machining. Like fabrication, you will need to be able to read and interpret computer drawings. Accuracy when measuring is the most important skill in this trade – you could be working in measurements much smaller than millimetres.
Engineering Drafting (CAD) is the final engineering apprenticeship area I will discuss. This is all computers driven drawings. As I mentioned above, the ability to read the drawings all come from this trade. Often working in 3D model type software you will be able to rotate the image in any direction. Like all the engineering trades, it is fascinating to see a drawing developed and then to see it produced from the ground up. It really gives the true meaning to this trade and the level of skill they have. Like the other trades, the precision to detail is important. In this one it is even more important. If you get the drawings wrong here the end product will be manufactured incorrectly. The components will be machined “not to scale” and will end with the fabrication to assembly not being exact. And when we are talking about accuracy down to a micro-millimeter, inaccuracy in the drawing is a big deal.
Most schools offer metal and engineering subjects, and I would recommend that if you are interested talk to the industrial teachers at your school. You may be able to gain basic skills and vital knowledge from these teachers. A solid standard of mathematics is also required to be successful in an engineering apprenticeship. There is a high level of working with formulas, equations, areas and working out the circumferences of different objects. Math at school can sometimes seem irrelevant and it’s not until you start working that you find the practical use for what you have learnt. So work hard on your math skills while at school.
Although the attraction to enter into the mines drives many young people to select an engineering apprenticeship, and there are good careers to be made in the mines, it is not the only area where you will have a great career. I know of many workshop managers that have never been to mines. Lots of companies need good, enthusiastic, trade qualified workers in their work shop.
Engineering is an exciting and diverse industry. I have only covered three areas in this field but the opportunities to go beyond a Boilermaker, Fitter or Drafter are limitless. So, if your leaning towards an engineering apprenticeship, get out there, talk to your teachers, parents or perhaps another apprentice you may know to see which path you may like to follow and just how exciting engineering can be.
NSW State Manager