Train­ing takes ap­pren­tice to new heights

NT News - - BUSINESS -

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’

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