Adult apprenticeship program takes skills to the next level

Royal Wolf Apprenticeship Program

When a container gets damaged, Damien Brouwer is the go-to for making it look as good as new.

“No forklift cut in a container is the same, but if you know what you’re doing you can make it better than ever,” says the Brisbane-based repairer.

Two years ago, Brouwer would not have been so confident in his skills. But now that he’s halfway through a Technical and Further Education (TAFE) course as part of Royal Wolf’s Adult Apprenticeship Program, his welding expertise has jumped to a whole new level.

“My skills are so much better. Learning more about the theory and maths behind welding means I’m better at setting jobs up and I get a good weld the first time.

“I’m more confident which makes the process more efficient, quicker, and better quality which is a huge benefit to our customers,” he says.  

The apprentice program enables non-qualified employees in welding, repairer, and boilermaker positions to attend TAFE courses to achieve certification in their area of expertise.

Team Investment

Fiona van Duuren, Human Resources Manager, says Royal Wolf has a strong commitment to upskilling employees and the adult apprentice program is key to retaining staff.    

“Investment in staff training and a commitment to growing their skill sets is essential because highly engaged employees are more passionate, more productive, and far more likely to stay on with the company.

“Our learn-as-they-earn culture is hugely beneficial for our employees’ future advancement and their ongoing development is also essential to business success and growth.”   

Van Duuren says the adult apprentice program plays a key role in combatting any potential skills shortages the company may face in specific areas by encouraging current employees to stay with Royal Wolf.  

Brouwer loves his job because of the variety, the hands-on nature of the work, and the opportunities to develop and grow within Royal Wolf.  

“I take pride in my work and I’m looking forward to having my certificate and being able to say I’m qualified. That’s an asset for Royal Wolf.

“It’s also about the money too if I’m honest. I’m 48 years old, I’m happy at Royal Wolf, and I’m here to stay so I’m really stoked to be doing this and being able to pass on the knowledge to the younger guys.”  

He admits he was the class clown at school (“I never paid attention.”) but jumped at the chance to go back to school.

“The maths is bloody advanced,” he laughs. “We never had computers when I was at school the first-time round, so I’d never done anything like the computing module before either.”

The initiative has been so successful, with five employees currently studying as part of the Adult Apprenticeship Program, it may be expanded across other parts of the business.

Employee and Customer Benefits

Josh Cross, Branch Manager, says people think undertaking an adult apprenticeship at an older age means they will go back to an apprentice wage.

“But once they understand their wage will stay the same, with the potential for a lift in salary, they are excited by the opportunity.

“It is an investment in our people to upskill and develop them which also benefits our customers because their expertise shows in their work.

“Once they are fully qualified and apply the theoretical, maths, and scientific side of welding in the workshop, that’s when the true benefit of their study and qualification shines through.”

To learn more about the Adult Apprenticeship Program, please get in touch with HR at  

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