At 69 years of age, heavy vehicle apprentice Keith Middleton is proof that you are never too old to learn.

The Dayboro local, who holds a lifetime of experience within the automotive industry, is now on his way to becoming a formally qualified heavy vehicle mechanic.

Keith Middleton was supported by his employer, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) who encouraged him to complete the qualification. They recognised that their employee had the skill set, capability, and aptitude to become professionally qualified within the industry. QFES also believed that encouraging and supporting Keith was not only beneficial for his personal and professional growth, but also supported their organisational culture of giving back to their employees.

At first Keith had reservations about returning to study. But after a visit from TAFE Queensland SkillsTech heavy commercial vehicle teacher Paul Darwin, he was able to see how simple the process really was. Keith was able to sit down with Paul to work out if there were any gaps in his existing knowledge and experience, then put together a training plan to fill those gaps.

Paul explains that “typically, if there are no gaps, a student can get signed off on the entire qualification straight away. It really is that simple.”

Data sourced from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection (2016) shows that mature-age apprentices now represent approximately 28 per cent of trade apprenticeships, and the numbers are growing. Mature-aged apprenticeships can be a great opportunity for people looking for employment or simply wanting a career change. Many businesses today are also encouraging employees to pursue formal qualifications due to the large growth opportunities available.

Keith’s qualification, a Certificate III in Heavy Vehicle Mechanical Technology, was funded through the Australian Government’s Trade Skills Assessment and Gap training program. The program aims to provide eligible Queensland residents with industry experience the opportunity to complete a priority trade qualification. This means that the out-of-pocket costs for the employer are minimal, and if no gap training is needed, the full qualification comes at no cost. Support is also available for both employees and businesses.

Known for his charismatic and cheeky nature where he openly calls it how he sees it, Keith's classmates and teachers have become extremely fond of him.

“I’m noted for saying what I think and how it is; that’s just the puppy I am," said Keith.

His teacher Paul Darwin said the younger apprentices really took to Keith as a positive role model and someone they could really look up to.

Like many others who have spent years working in roles without gaining formal qualifications, Keith wanted recognition for the work he had being doing all his life. He wanted to prove that he knew what he was doing and wanted to be respected for that. Keith is a strong believer that there is no such thing as the word can’t and is fair dinkum proof that you are never too old to learn.

For more information about recognition of prior learning at TAFE Queensland visit our website or call 1300 308 233.

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