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The trade gene

Trade careers have united generations in Mark Abika's family and he wants to help the next generation keep the tradition alive.

A legacy of trade careers runs in Mark Akiba's family and he knew from a young age that he wanted to follow the same path.

"My dad is a plumber and when I was really young, I became interested in carpentry. As a child, I would watch my grandad work on carpentry projects and he inspired me to pursue the trade," Mark said.

In his early 20s, Mark set out to gain an apprenticeship.

"I applied for a position but I didn’t make it."

Despite the setback, Mark showed resilience and refused to give up on his dream.

"I asked the employer what I should to do help prepare for applying again and they told me there was a Certificate ll in Indigenous Housing Repairs and Maintenance (10897NAT) course starting in a few weeks. I completed that training and waited four years to apply for an apprenticeship with the Torres Strait Island Regional Council. Everything worked out in the end because I never gave up on the job I wanted to do."

Mark enrolled in a Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30220) and undertook his training in blocks over four years, leaving his home in the Torres Strait to study at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus. Mark said he was grateful for the opportunity to gain new skills.

"I have made some great mates who also attend TAFE in Cairns from Cape York. I enjoyed every single part of block training and I looked forward to any classes I went to because I knew I would be learning something new. It was also really great to learn from teachers who were very knowledgeable and friendly."

When he returned home from each training block, Mark was able to use his new skills straight away.

"I have worked on a number of upgrades and extensions. Some of the most memorable include construction work at a police station in my first year and then later helping to build an accommodation unit for a health centre on Warraber Island. Because of my apprenticeship, I have been able to visit and work on islands in the Torres Strait, some I had never been to before, and I have made connections I hope will better my future employment."

Just like Mark was inspired by his dad and grandfather to pursue a trade, his young cousins now look up to him for career guidance.

"I hope my completion of this apprenticeship encourages others to apply and shows how great this opportunity was - every day you learn new stuff. My advice is to never give up. If you keep moving forward you will achieve what you want to do in life."