Engineering SBAT gets Head Start from EPP

Year 11 student Harmony Etuale is blazing a trail in a traditionally male-dominated field, as she commences a school-based apprenticeship (SBA) as a Fitter Machinist. Harmony's pathway to her SBA from the EPP Head Start initiative highlights the benefits of early industry experience offered through the EPP.

Harmony smiles at camera while posing with machinery Harmony smiles at camera while posing with machinery

Deciding on a future career while still in high school can be a daunting task. That’s where the Educational Pathways Program (EPP) comes in, providing opportunities for students to explore jobs across various industries, learn hands-on skills, and ultimately help students decide if certain careers are right for them.

For Harmony Etuale, a Year 11 student at Callaghan College Jesmond Senior Campus, the EPP’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Head Start initiative provided her this opportunity through a pre-apprenticeship course when she was in Year 10. The course, delivered by Group Training Organisation (GTO), HunterNet, was targeted at female students and focused on the Fabrication, Manufacturing and Engineering industries - all fields which Harmony had shown a keen interest in. Over 8 days, Harmony gained the skills and knowledge that could be used across multiple trades.

“I learned how to use a variety of hand tools and operate machines, interpret drawings and measurements, as well as design and manufacture a tool,” says Harmony.

“I found the program very interesting and enjoyable,” she adds.

Harmony’s interest in the industry and her obvious talent led to HunterNet supporting her for work experience with one of their companies.

Amanda Hine, Head Teacher Careers for the Newcastle Central group of schools, says it’s initiatives like Head Start that are giving students the opportunity to gain valuable insights and exposure in an industry that would otherwise not be readily available to them.

“For students considering their career paths, I often recommend a Head Start course or work experience. It gives them a chance to work closely with experienced trainers and engage with real working conditions,” says Amanda.

Now in Year 11, Harmony has commenced her school-based apprenticeship with DSI Underground, a manufacturer of innovative products and systems for underground mining and tunnelling.

Adam Crook, SBAT Engagement Officer for the Newcastle Central group of schools, assisted Harmony to find an employer and says it is a testament to Harmony’s drive and dedication during her pre-apprenticeship course that she landed with DSI Underground.

“After her interview with DSI Underground, they were very keen to employ her, even though they had already filled all their positions!” says Adam.

As part of her SBA, Harmony is working towards a Certificate III in Engineering Mechanical Trade (Fitter Machinist). Similar to most school-based apprenticeships or traineeships (SBATs), Harmony will attend TAFE one day per week, work on-the-job with her employer one day, and complete school and work towards her HSC for the remaining three days.

“Doing an SBAT is 100% worth it,” says Harmony.

Once Harmony graduates from high school she would have completed the first year of her apprenticeship and plans to continue her apprenticeship full time with DSI Underground.

“Both Harmony and DSI Underground are committed to continue employment and development for at least 3 years full time once her HSC is completed,” says Adam Crook.

Harmony's pathway from the classroom to the worksite highlights the value of the EPP initiatives working together to help shape career pathways.


Watch this video for a guide on how students can explore industries and test-drive career options while still at school.

Explore SBAT options.

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