2019 Apprentice of the Year

22 January 2020

Apprentice of the Year Announced

Darwin’s Andrew Creber has been named Hastings Deering’s 2019 Apprentice of the Year (AOTY) pipping five other finalists in the prestigious competition taking in apprentices from not only the NT but Queensland, PNG, and New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands.

At 44, Mr Creber was almost twice the age of three of the finalists, starting his apprentice ship with the mining and construction industry support company in 2016.

The former auto electrician said he applied for an apprenticeship to round off and formalise qualifications he had from various other trades.

“I had skills and experience but needed that trade certificate,” Mr Creber said, “The gaps in my experience couldn’t be filled unless I completed a trade and was fortunate to be in a position where I could undertake an apprenticeship at my age.  When I started, I was worried the others might call me ‘old fella’ but it’s been great. I believe you always have to remain enthusiastic and I think the younger ones can benefit from my experience. Work is such a big part of your life- you need to be doing something you really want to do.”

The other finalists included PNG’s Percy Meraudje, Toowoomba’s Matt Knowles, Brisbane’s Nathan Hewlett, Rockhampton’s Riley Stewart and Mackay’s Blake Hoffmaster.

The awards also acknowledge apprentices moving through the ranks with the Trainers’ Choice Award for first year apprentices presented to Mackay’s Joshua Byers, second year award to Rockhampton’s Natasha Stark and third year award acknowledging Hayden Azzopardi from Mackay.

This is the 42nd year of the award which is a prelude to entry to a global competition by machinery giant Caterpillar to celebrate the very best in training.  Mr Creber will now compete in the next round of competition against Cat apprentices from the rest of Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.  If he wins, he will travel to the United States for specialist training.

Hastings Deering managing director Dean Mehmet said today’s diesel fitters were critical to the mining and construction sector. 

“Our diesel fitters are very important to our business because they help our customers maximise their Caterpillar machines’ productivity,” Mr Mehmet said. “The competition was incredibly high, but Andrew stood out – always ready to improve his credentials.

Hastings Deering’s Training Centre of Excellence offers apprentices the very best in skills training which is critical when you are out in the field on your own. We remain one of the largest trainers of apprentice diesel fitters in Australia: we value apprenticeship training and its importance to continually replenish the talent pipeline.”

Helping to present the awards, and keynote speaker, CMC Group’s Managing Director Peter Kendall said good people remained critical to organisational performance.

“Impossible objectives can be achieved with the right culture: people who work above and beyond,” Mr Kendall said. “I was a fitter and my heart still lies with machinery, so I understand how hard the job can be and if you can manage a workshop full of fitters you can manage anyone.”

In February Hastings Deering will induct 75 new apprentices:  its largest intake of apprentices for six years. In the last 18 years, Hastings Deering has trained more than 2000 apprentices.

“While most of our apprentices are diesel fitters, we also have auto electricians, engine reconditioners, fitter machinist, boiler makers, mechanical fitters and electricians in our apprentice workforce,” Mr Mehmet said.

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