Appreciating our apprentices

Published on 21 June 2022

Maintenance team at Werri Beach Progress Hall

As our municipality’s biggest employer, apprenticeships are one of the many ways Council offers pathways to training and employment for younger people.

We chatted to two of Kiama Council’s apprentices.

Vicky Su is studying Carpentry and works with Council’s Carpenter Stephen Moore, and Izabel (Izy) Sturley is studying Painting & Decorating and works with Council’s Painter Ben Wachsmuth.

Izy has been at Kiama Council for three years and Vicky is five months into her apprenticeship. Both saw the apprentice job position advertised, applied and were successful.

While they mostly stick to their subject areas, the two also spend time with each other and the rest of the maintenance crew, giving them a well-rounded education in maintenance works.

The four all worked together recently to renovate Werri Beach Progress Hall, which included replacing the roof, re-sanding the floors, painting the interior and exterior and installing a new kitchen.

Stephen, who has been a carpenter for 40 years, says: “Having an apprentice is an opportunity to ‘time travel’ – some of the skills I learnt in my early days are almost forgotten, and the men who taught me (they were all men in those days) are now pushing up the daisies. When I teach those skills to the next generation, it allows me to look into the future.”

Ben, who has been at Kiama Council for three years, says he enjoys having an apprentice because “it’s good having a second pair of hand to help with jobs and having another opinion.”

Vicky says she’s learning about: “reading plans, carrying out different types of levelling operations, how to put up architraves and skirting , carrying out excavations, footings, roof trusses and eaves.”

While working outdoors much of the time can be challenging due to the weather, Izy says she enjoys learning the different aspects of the trade. “It’s flexible and a great environment, plus I’ve always got a nice view!”

Speaking to Stephen and Ben about the changes they’ve seen over the years, they note the switch from “paper to iPads”, the increased use of water-based paints (rather than oil and lead-based) and a better focus on safety.

Interaction with community is another aspect all four say they enjoy when working for Kiama Council – although chatting with passers by can sometimes be distracting. 

“We have laughs every day, we stay light-hearted to make the days more enjoyable and it’s lovely working close to the water,” says Ben.

Council currently has seven apprentices.

As well as those listed above, we have apprentices in heavy vehicle mechanics, electrician work, horticulture parks & gardens and engineering fabrication.

We also have cadet engineers and work experience placements.

All our job opportunities can be found on our website: www.kiama.nsw.gov.au/jobs

To hire the newly-renovated Werri Beach Progress Hall, or one of Kiama Council’s other fab community halls, use our new online booking form:

 
Photo: Stephen Moore, Izy Sturley, Vicky Su and Ben Wachsmuth from Council’s maintenance team