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Jack's in a league of his own

Jack Green isn't your average trade student. He completed his four-year boilermaking apprenticeship in just two years and has worked on some interesting projects, including props for TV show Australian Survivor.

Jack, 22, was exposed at an early age to boilermaking.

"My father used to be a boilermaker by trade and I've always looked up to him. I was a big fan of metalworking as a kid and it was a dream of mine to be a blacksmith one day. I eventually just ended up settling for what's closest and became a boilermaker," Jack said.

After high school, Jack enrolled in a Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade (MEM30305). He was able to access fully subsidised training through free apprenticeships for under 25s.

Jack completed block training at the TAFE Queensland Mount Isa campus and said his studies were hands on from the get-go.

"We were doing oxy cutting in the first week and the second week we were doing general purpose stick and MIG welding," he said.

"I had a fair amount of grinding experience heading into my training so that part of the course was easy, but I hadn't been exposed to oxy welding before. I walked into class and didn't know what I was doing, but TAFE showed me."

"When I first started, my techniques were pretty average, but I enjoyed learning and I just practiced every weld until it became second nature."

Jack said his training was put to good use when he returned to work.

"When I started my apprenticeship, anything that came through the door that I could fix, I would. I did a lot of grinding, I worked on car frames, I did patchwork and made cattle yards. Those small tasks gave me the chance to build the experience I needed with the tools that I now use every day," Jack said.

"As my training progressed, I started doing a lot more advanced jobs like pressure-welding, making trailers and a lot of work at mine sites like making or fixing safety handrails and staircases."

"When boilermakers make something, it's built to last. It brings a little bit of pride to think that something you built 25 years from now will still be as strong as the day you made it."

Jack said every workday was different and he enjoyed the variety. When TV show Australian Survivor started filming in Cloncurry, Jack got a tap on the shoulder.

"I made signs for the show, did some modifications to the crew's vehicles and I also made a couple of knives and swords to be used as props."

Jack said his boilermaking skills come in handy when he's not at work.

"Being a boilermaker is fun for me because I can fix anything around the house myself. I don't need to get quotes, I can just do it straight away because I have the skills."

"If I ever retire on a station my knowledge will come in handy then and allow me to be pretty self-sufficient," he said.

A dedicated student, Jack was able to complete his four-year apprenticeship in half the time.

"Growing up I was exposed to the trade, so that definitely helped. It also depends on how switched on you are and if you ask your teachers for help when you need it. Asking questions never hurt anyone."

Jack works at Field Engineering Services in Cloncurry, a business that's part-owned and managed by his father John Green.

John credits TAFE Queensland for being flexible when it comes to apprentice training.

"In my experience, TAFE Queensland is dedicated to producing tradespeople, not partial tradies. So while the organisation supports apprentices who want to advance and complete their training quicker, they still have to get through and pass everything to be signed off as competent," John said.

"I think it's a smart move for TAFE to accommodate those kids who are passionate about their trade and are keen to complete their training early, which is what Jack's done."

Jack said anyone considering a trade career should investigate their options to determine if an apprenticeship is the right path for them.

"If you're keen to try something there's nothing wrong with just giving it a go. But my advice to young tradies is you've got to put the hard work in, don't show up expecting to be on big money straightaway. You've got to prove yourself and gain experience, then you'll get better pay," Jack said.

"Also, be aware that as you're working you've got to make sure that you're learning and taking things in. Don't coast because eventually your employer will see that and when they give you something to do independently, you'll be stuck."