When Adrian Allsopp came to Royal Wolf in 2017 on what was supposed to be a two-week work release from his site labourer job, he had no idea he’d found his new career path.
He started out as a trades assistant, prepping and cutting steel, and developing his skills on the job, until his manager encouraged him to take up a formal TAFE apprenticeship as a mature-age student.
Adrian, now 32, is a third year apprentice boilermaker at Royal Wolf’s Armada site, in Queensland, making modifications to shipping containers. The TAFE apprenticeship is being undertaken with the support of Royal Wolf as part of the company’s Employee Benefits Program.
“Two weeks turned into five years,” explains Brisbane-based Adrian.
“The work just kept coming and then I progressed through every part of what we do here and acquired the skill set to do what I'm doing now, which is across the board.
“My boss Greg Taylor said to me, ‘What can we do for you to keep you here? Do you want a full-time job? Do you want an apprenticeship? What are you looking for?’ So I took the apprenticeship route and now I have one more year to complete.”
Rather than feeling out of place among the younger apprentices, Adrian has found that he’s getting a lot more out of gaining his qualification in his 30s than he might have in his early 20s.
“I feel like, being a bit older, I tend to want to learn more and really take it in,” he says.
“I might have just sort of breezed through it and not been as assertive or asked the questions that I ask now as a younger bloke.”
A combination of a supportive environment and his own initiative meant Adrian has found a niche for himself in a field that he’d never considered before.
“I developed just by watching other people do it and asking questions and then learning on the spot,” he says.
“I had no idea that I even liked metal fabrication; I hadn't done any of it before. And it just turned out that I love it.”
Being part of the Wolf Pack has been a big part of helping Adrian grow and develop in his role.
“We all communicate with one another and talk,” he says.
“It sounds a bit corny, but, yes, it's like a pack mentality.”
Adrian finds that both management and his colleagues are always there for him if he needs guidance.
“They're always keen to teach and I'm keen to learn and they have the time for me,” he says.
“They really invest and they care on a personal level. I never wake up and not want to come to work. I don't even think about it. I love coming to work.”
Finishing his apprenticeship is his focus at the moment but Adrian says that there are always more opportunities for him down the track.
“They're always looking to move you up in positions within the company,” he says.
“Whether it be into a supervisor or leading hand… the options always seem to be open and available.”
Wherever the road takes him, Adrian could never have guessed where his “short stint” at Royal Wolf would lead.
“My experience at Royal Wolf has been life-changing and I'd recommend it to anyone who wanted to give it a go,” he says.
“I love the place and I love my job.”
Learn more about careers at Royal Wolf here.