Training takes apprentice to new heights
It’s highly unlikely that Territory-born Norman Foster will ever be out of work.
He’s an aviation engineer – and the world needs about 600,000 more like him.
The skills shortage in the industry means that Norman will be in ever-growing demand.
He happily works for Darwin-based Airnorth, a company that invests an enormous amount of money and effort in training Territorians to be aviation engineers.
Norman, who was recruited by Airnorth straight from school, is only 22 but has already completed his Certificate IV and diploma.
“I love my job,” he says. “I like the people I work with and Airnorth is a company that looks after you.
“I’ve always loved aircraft. The technology is mind-blowing.” Norman trains on the job in Darwin and travels to the Aviation Australia training centre in Cairns on block release.
He was last year named Aviation Australia’s Apprentice of the Year after scoring very highly in every test, including one full marks.
Much of the Airnorth training at Aviation Australia is made possible by the User Choice Apprentice funding from the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.
The funding falls under the Skilling Territorians initiative aims to maximise job opportunities for Territorians and build a skilled workforce.
It helps employers and businesses support the growth of the Territory economy by improving local capability.
The initiative is part of a suite of job-enhancement programs and services developed by the NT Government.
Two key focus areas are Aboriginal employment, and apprenticeships and traineeships.
Norman’s immediate boss, general manager of engineering Mark Dunn, says Airnorth is committed to a grow-our-own policy for training aviation engineers.
“We take about two apprentices a year,” he says. “I always look for keen kids just coming out of school.” Aviation Australia has 43 apprentices in the Territory. Company business manager Chris Pigott says working with the Department of Education and Department of Trade, Business and Innovation departments is a pleasure.
“They are very professional,” he says.
Airnorth, the major aviation operator in northern Australia, has more than 300 scheduled and charter departures a week servicing over 20 destinations, including East Timor.
It carries more than 300,000 passengers a year. Airnorth directly employs more than 200 staff in Darwin and provides indirect employment through the contracting of ground service operations across all its destinations.
Airnorth aviation engineer Norman Foster ... ‘I’ve always love aircraft – the technology is mind-blowing’