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Graduate profile - John Varney (Light Fabrication)

Posted Tuesday 12th September 2017

John Varney always liked the idea of being able to call himself a qualified tradesman, but was never in a position to commit to an apprenticeship. After starting a family at an early age, John worked whatever jobs he could to put food on the table. It was only once his children were older that he began to focus on his own career and started a job at Brisbane Tank Manufacturing.

“After I’d been at Brisbane Tanks for a while, they asked me if I wanted to do an apprenticeship. I took the opportunity with both hands and ran with it, because I was looking for the same opportunities as the other tradesmen, but needed that qualification to get them,” John said.

Now, at the age of 41, after finishing his Certificate III in Engineering with Blue Dog, John proudly calls himself a qualified tradesman.

“It’s an achievement. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and to have the opportunity to do it now – it’s magic.”

While John already had experience in the fabrication industry, his apprenticeship helped him to take a closer look at certain concepts. He credits his training with helping him to better understand geometric development, which gives him the confidence to make suggestions if he sees something that’s not quite right.

“If you’re unsure of something, instead of just doing it and passing the buck to the draftsman, you can take a bit more initiative, and it helps eliminate a lot of problems. None of us are perfect, and if we can help one another out in the workplace, and eliminate mistakes and make the company profit, then the company grows, and so do you,” he said.

As a high school student, John had little interest in the classroom, as he learnt best by working with his hands. However, he found the self-paced nature of his apprenticeship suited him perfectly.

“I had a comfortable office set up. I could shut the door, concentrate and get through the work. It was a lot easier for me to listen to the video and answer the questions, rather than sitting in a classroom.”

In future, John would like to use his passion for customising vehicles to create snorkels, fuel tanks and exhaust systems. His advice to anyone in his position is to get an apprenticeship under their belt if given the chance.

“It opens up new doors and new opportunities. It’s the best thing you can do because then you’re unlimited.”

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