From cameras to circuit boards – switching focus to a new career – Naval Shipbuilding College

From cameras to circuit boards – switching focus to a new career

Friday, August 21, 2020

Electrical Trades Apprentices play an important role in the installation and repair of electrical systems components of naval ships.


When Maddie Rickets started planning her career during high school, she was thinking more along the lines of lenses and tripods than circuit boards, completing a university degree majoring in photography and writing.


After Maddie finished her degree, she cut a path as a freelancer, but the constant need to chase work contracts and negotiate a fair pay was unappealing, and she quickly realised that she wanted a completely different career.


“I found I didn’t like freelance work and started to think about trades – and thought electrical would be something I’d enjoy.”


So, with strong support of her family and friends, Maddie undertook an electrical pre-apprenticeship at Thornlie TAFE in Perth, Western Australia.


Having found a path that challenged and interested her, her desire to pursue a career in naval shipbuilding was cemented when she undertook work experience as part of her pre-apprenticeship, with a company that was contracted to work on naval vessels.


“I’d grown up around vessels and boats and did some work experience with an independent contractor who happened to work on naval vessels – and I fell in love with it”


This experience motivated Maddie to apply for work, securing an apprenticeship with the global defence prime contractor, Austal based in the Henderson Shipyard in Perth.


“When I was researching where I’d like to work, I found I was interested in the industrial side and having had naval experience through my pre-app, I looked online and came across Austal who has an incredibly good reputation. So, I applied got the job – and now I’m here and loving it!” Maddie said.


Maddie is currently a third-year apprentice and her role at Austal requires an understanding of wiring diagrams, cable run sheets and various technical information. She calculates cable sizes, types and run lengths and is also required to have a solid understanding of the naval shipbuilding industry, electrical standards and Austal’s high quality requirements, a challenge she relishes.


“I love the pride that comes with being part of a team that manufactures such impressive naval vessels,” Maddie said.


“I also love honing my skills every day and the feeling of coming up against a challenge, figuring out a solution and learning from the experience”.


Maddie knows that a future in Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Industry will open doors to even more challenging, exciting and long-term career prospects.


“I am really enjoying working for Austal. They are one of the leading shipbuilding companies in the world and I am learning from the best. And there are so many opportunities in naval shipbuilding – there’s something for everyone.”


Maddie explained how when many people think of shipbuilding, they often associate it as being as dirty, backbreaking work.


“Of course, there’s an opportunity to get physical and get your hands dirty, but shipbuilding is also mentally stimulating and challenging, and there’s a lot of opportunity for growth.”


Maddie described the feeling of seeing a shipbuilding project through to completion.


“There’s so much to learn and it’s really interesting to be part of these big projects – to see them taking shape and I’ve gained so many valuable skills,” Maddie said.


“Working in naval shipbuilding is incredibly rewarding and I would definitely recommend it,” Maddie said.


“A few years ago, I never expected to be part of Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Industry – and now I can’t imagine doing anything else.”


If you or someone you know are interested in knowing more about the job opportunities in Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Industry – from trades to PhDs – join the NSC’s national Workforce Register, so we can connect your with one of our Candidate Engagement Consultants for your confidential career conversation.

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