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Getting off the tools with TAFE Queensland

Everybody knows TAFE Queensland is the place to get on the tools, but there are also higher level qualifications on offer.

Brisbane carpenter Jack Coolican has built himself a stellar career in construction supervision by completing TAFE Queensland qualifications to get off the tools and into supervision roles.

Embarking on his trade career fresh out of grade 12, Jack started a Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30220) at 18 years old and has continued to progress in the 15 years since by completing further qualifications at TAFE Queensland including a Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) (CPC40110) and Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) (CPC50210).

Jack said he had always planned on furthering his qualifications, but it is easy to put further study off after finishing an apprenticeship and getting into the swing of things as a qualified tradesperson.

"It is something everyone always talks about when you start - you become a carpenter to become a builder," he explained, "then you’re young, you’re running around having a good time, and then you realise it's getting harder and harder to get those qualifications."

After five years as a qualified carpenter however, Jack had seen his older peers start to show signs of working physically and decided to eventually transition into supervision roles that were mostly off the tools.

"When you’re in your mid-20's, they’re in their 30's and you see them slow down and they start to complain about the aches and pains that you’re not experiencing yet. As you get older you feel it more and more," Jack said.

Apart from the benefits his body has noticed due to moving off the tools, Jack has also found he is enjoying areas of the industry he never thought he would operate in after becoming qualified to supervise commercial projects.

"I had always, from when I started my apprenticeship, only wanted to build houses," Jack said, "but I really enjoy commercial building, I’ve noticed that now I really like to learn and I enjoy the challenge of doing something I haven’t done before, especially having to learn anything to do with Fire, Access & Egress, and other commercial-specific items."

Jack found the TAFE Queensland staff, especially his Diploma teacher James Emilien, always went above and beyond for students eager to learn and further their careers, "I found that if you put the effort in, James always had the time for you," he said.

After having such a positive experience, Jack encourages younger tradespeople to take on higher level qualifications at TAFE Queensland, "I tell them all to go and do their Certificate IV as soon as they finish their apprenticeship. There are great systems in Queensland for Government funding and subsidies for education," he said, having received funding from Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) to complete his training.

Jack has found higher level TAFE Queensland qualifications the best way to give his body a more forgiving career while still being involved in his passion industry, "I still love putting my nail-bag on and having my tape and hammer on me, but I’m more involved now in marking things out and preparing jobs for other people as opposed to doing the physical work myself," he said.