Trainer Profile - Chris Sealy (VET in Schools)
Posted Friday 18th August 2017
As a young man, VETiS trainer Chris Sealy was the perfect candidate for the type of training Blue Dog delivers in schools. Born in Toowoomba but spending most of his younger years on a sheep property outside Longreach, Chris was sent to board in Brisbane once he reached high school. Leaving a small primary school of 18 students and arriving at a boarding school of hundreds was a serious culture shock, but that wasn’t Chris’s biggest concern. Uninterested in the classroom, he couldn’t wait to leave school and begin working.
“It was a bit of fun, I was interested in sport, but I couldn’t get out of school quick enough,” Chris said.
Chris found it hard to see a connection between school and the real world, so he finished year 10 and went back to the farm to work with his father. After a couple of years, he decided to complete a prevocational course to increase his opportunities.
“I learnt more there than at school. I was used to mechanical work and welding, because we did a lot of that on the property.”
Chris went on to work with a geological company, searching for minerals with the explosives team, before becoming an apprentice mechanic in Rockhampton. Part way through his apprenticeship, the business closed their doors so he was unable to finish the trade.
“After that I met a girl, as we do. A hairdresser.”
“I then got into earthmoving, because every time I spoke to one of those guys, they seemed to be run off their feet. I bought a bobcat and a truck, and was in the game over 12 years. The job was great, working in the building industry and meeting some really good people.”
By the time Chris sold the earthmoving business, he and his wife had four young boys. The family moved to Brisbane, where Chris began working for a plastic tank manufacture in rotational moulding. He learnt to make the product, fix the machines, and then started to make the moulds and machines. Eventually he went out on his own.
“I made my own machines and started to do some custom moulding and then some small house water tanks. The drought started and everyone needed a water tank. It was great for some time, and then it rained.”
Chris sold his business and set up a rotational moulding plant up in PNG. He then began renovating a house and spending time helping one of his sons who had become a qualified carpenter. He could apply some of the knowledge he had gathered working with builders in Rockhampton in his younger days, while learning something new. If the team needed a hand with aspects of a build outside of carpentry, the rest of the family was always there to help.
“Of my other three boys, one’s a plumber, one’s a third-year apprentice electrician, and one’s an architect,” Chris said.
“There’s plenty of knowledge between them.”
Chris now uses the knowledge he gained throughout his diverse career to deliver construction and engineering certificates to students through Blue Dog’s VETiS program. With students now encouraged to stay at school to complete year 11 and 12, Chris is glad they are given a chance to use their practical skills to gain nationally recognised qualifications.
“The courses we deliver give them an opportunity to use their hands to do something they’re good at. It’s about making sure they’re kept busy.”
Chris relates to the students that struggle with classwork, but are motivated by the practical projects they complete. He, along with the teachers, want the students to be work-ready when they finish school.
“We treat the workshop as if we’re outside in the workplace. The teacher and myself are the boss, and the students are the employees. They come to us if there are any issues. These students are in year 11 and 12, so they need to be taught how to survive in the workplace. We can have a bit of fun and a laugh, but it’s about approaching the job the right way.”
Outside of Blue Dog, Chris loves spending his time volunteering at the Mermaid Beach Surf Life Saving Club. A life member, Chris is heavily involved in patrolling the beach, and training crew for IRBs (inflatable rescue boats).
Like most Blue Dogs in the Milton office, Chris is also a Broncos fan. His most recent trip to the hallowed turf of Suncorp Stadium was to watch the Broncos play the Storm, a game which ended in the home side getting demolished by 30 points. Reports indicate the night involved a bit more hydrating than spectating as the game got out of hand.