Ben's journey in the renewables industry began in 2005 after high school when an ad in the newspaper about solar power sparked his interest, and he decided he wanted to try something totally unique and different that no one was really talking about yet.
"In order to get into the solar industry, I had to do a full electrical apprenticeship and then post the apprenticeship, I had to do a lot of solar-specific training in order to get a CEC accreditation," explained Ben.
"The TAFE Queensland training was fantastic. Most of the teachers were qualified electricians, they had run their own businesses or worked for big companies, and they had a variety of experience to draw on whether it was domestic, commercial, or industrial."
Ben completed his Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (UEE30811)* in 2010, followed closely by a small business management qualification. He now runs his own business, Expert Electrical, and being his own boss has proven very rewarding.
"Becoming a father and a family man it's important to have the ability to start early or start late, depending on what my family life requires of me," said Ben.
"Sometimes I'll be out on the job at six o'clock in the morning, other times I'll start in the office at nine o'clock in the morning. The flexibility of running and owning my own business allows me to chop and change as it suits."
"I've got no one office. I can be on the Gold Coast, on the Sunshine Coast, in a beautiful location in western Brisbane — the office is everywhere and I get to meet lovely people, I get to see lovely locations. Who wouldn't want a better idea than that for their working life?" he asked.
It's not just the work-life balance that Ben finds rewarding though, he's also passionate about his industry and making a difference for future generations.
"I define greatness as doing something you're passionate about, doing something that is rewarding overall, rather than saying it's just a job," he said.
"I like the fact that I'm contributing to the fight against climate change, I'm contributing to upskilling people, and I'm contributing to a better future for my kids as well."
Those people he's upskilling are apprentices Ben sends to TAFE Queensland to get the same level of quality training he himself received.
"All our apprentices do their training through TAFE Queensland and the feedback I get is fantastic. We have some students that prefer to do block release, and some students prefer to do day release, but it varies depending on how they like to get their training delivery completed, and as a business both Expert Electrical and TAFE are able to adjust to suit each situation accordingly."
"From my perspective if you're getting an apprentice through their training, you can't get better than TAFE Queensland," said Ben.
For anyone considering a career in solar and renewable technologies, Ben has some advice.
"It's best to know that you're out to travel a lot but it's not all perfect and perky. You've got to be able to work hard work in the sun and be able to live away from home at times. But if you're a person that likes to be outdoors a lot, you're physically fit, and you'd like to work on things that help the environment, then the industry is going to work for you."
*current equivalent course