Justin Curley is a rare breed of apprentice. The 33-year-old from Charlestown has just been named the Hunter Valley Training Company’s (HVTC) apprentice of the year and his qualifications certainly stand out.
Following the HVTC award, Justin was named apprentice of the year in Hunter and Central Coast Training Awards on June 23, and will progress to an interview for the state training awards this year.
He’s one of the few people he knows who’s a dual tradesman and he said it was a great asset.
Justin started as mechanical fitter underground with Yancoal and was apprenticed there for four years and as a tradesman for another three years.
“I was still working as a mechanical fitter when I decided to give up my pride and solid pay to go back to do the second apprenticeship and eventually get back into the mining industry,” he said.
The second was with Origin Energy at Eraring power station.
“I applied for an electrical trades position at Centennial Coal at Myuna and saw it was a good asset to have as a former underground mechanical fitter.
“I’m the only dual tradesman at my pit and the only one I know.
“It’s a different mindset. You look at an electrical problem, but have mechanical thoughts in the back of your mind.”
Having spent nearly eight years employed by HVTC, Justin said teachers went above and beyond for each student, and he learnt to be the older and wiser head among the 16-year-olds who were also doing their apprenticeship.
“My advice would be: back yourself and don’t be afraid because of the short-term challenges – there’s so much of a brighter future at the end of the tunnel.”
HVTC Group’s top apprentices, trainees, students and host employers for 2023 were recognised at a ceremony at Noah’s on the Beach in Newcastle on June 2.
CEO Sharon Smith said, as a group training organisation, connecting people to training and employment would not be possible without its host employers.
“HVTC partners with more than 250 host employers across NSW to create employment opportunities for more than 770 apprentices and trainees,’ she said.
“Our hosts play a crucial role in facilitating on-the-job training to equip our apprentices and trainees with industry skills, knowledge and experience that will prepare them for potential future employment in their chosen field.”
The awards have been given out since 2015 and this year Whitehaven Coal was named as large host employer of the year.
Centennial Coal was also named in the awards as finalist for the large host employer of the year and was the host of the trainee of the year, Laura Tetley.