Looking into an Electrician apprenticeship? Doing a pre-apprenticeship qualification in Electrotechnology could be a great way to spark your interest in this exciting field.
- My Role At TransGrid
- Apprenticeship and Pre-Apprenticeship
- Electrician Personality
- A Day in the Life of an Electrician
- Best Parts of the Job
- Trends in Electrotech
Deciding on a trade can be an involved process - how do you know what your future career will be like and whether you’re suited to it?
Working as an electrician in Australia is a secure and interesting profession. In fact, there are more than 165 thousand workers around the country, earning more than the average wage.
Matthew Bayada is a Team Planner and Coordinator at the Subs-Metro West “Works Delivery” department at TransGrid. TransGrid manages and operates the high-voltage electricity transmission network in NSW and the ACT, looking after the major high-voltage electricity transmission network, connecting generators, distributors and major end users.
We had a chat to Matthew about being a sparky, electrician career advice and why electrotechnology is such an interesting industry.
What do you do in your role at TransGrid?
At TransGrid, I’m a planner and coordinator. In my role, I plan all the work and allocate all the resources we will need to go and do the work effectively. I also organise equipment, jobs and scope of work for the team.
As a former electrician, how did you secure that exciting role?
When I left school in Year 12, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, to be honest, but I ended up going for an entrance exam at TransGrid, which I found out at that time was a high-voltage electricity organisation that deals in transmitting electricity in New South Wales.
I then gained a four-year apprenticeship, attended TAFE during that time, and I ended up working as a tradesman for approximately 11 or 12 years after I completed my apprenticeship. Then I moved from a tradesman to a senior tradesperson and then into my current role as a planner and coordinator.
What first attracted you to the area of electrotechnology?
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school, but electricity was something that interested me at that time. I loved seeing how electrical things operate and working them out. I loved having the skills to occasionally do electrical work on the side for friends and family as a bonus.
Another thing I have found is that the more skills you’re putting to the table when you’re applying for an apprenticeship, the better.
Students who have completed the Certificate II in Electrotechnology will have a far greater advantage than someone who’s left school and doesn’t have any clue about electricity. So, if you did the electrician pre-apprenticeship course, you’ll definitely have a leg up on other people that are applying for the same job that you might be.
Is an electrician pre-apprenticeship a good way of working out whether you’re suited to the industry as well?
Yes, and you’ll get exposure to hand tools and mathematics involved too, such as working out circuits. You’ll soon figure out if working as an electrician something you’d enjoy and want to pursue further.
The Certificate II in Electrotechnology (Career Start) builds your knowledge of electrics from the ground up, from identifying electrical components to delivering excellent customer service.
Related: 5 Good Reasons to do an Electrician Pre-Apprenticeship Course
Do you see any women moving into the industry? What types of people do you see coming into the field now?
I’ve worked here 17 years and I’ve seen that change over the years. Workers used to be predominantly male but in the last five to ten years, I’ve seen quite a few women apprentices come through. Some women in electrotech have gone on to engineering or even further study at university.
What are some of the challenges you meet in your day-to-day role?
Definitely safety. Safety is a major part of things, so you always have to be on your toes and be careful. Electricity is not something you can see. So, you must show some great respect for it and if you’re not sure, you really have to ask questions - especially when it comes to working on things and making them safe.
Another challenge is gaining the ability to work things out via problem-solving. Simply solving problems in day-to-day work is a constant test.
Being an electrician, do you need to be proficient with old vs. new technologies? For example, residential homes built in the 1920s versus modern city high-rises?
Yes. There’d definitely be different aspects of it and different technologies used back then. Everything would’ve aged and deteriorated, whereas if you were doing a new install on a high-rise or something, you’d see the other side of things where you’re installing stuff rather than going back to maintain or add on to a circuit.
There are many areas in electrotechnology that the pre-apprenticeship course would be a pathway to. Usually, people think of electricians as just the “residential-type” electrician that comes to your house and installs power points and light switches, but that’s just a small portion of the electrotech industry.
Related: 3 of the Best Skilled Trades You Can Learn in Australia
What three personality traits make a good electrician?
- Good communication skills
- Must be thorough and meticulous
- You must enjoy a challenge!
What surprised you when you started working in the industry?
Probably one of the most impacting things was the sheer fact of where electricity comes from!
Discovering how electricity is made and then how it gets to your house, to your toaster, kettle and TV… I’ve learned many things at TransGrid since!
Can you walk us through like a typical day in your role at TransGrid?
In my current role, I’m meant to spend half my time in the office and half my time out of the office but I don’t tend to get out as often as I’d like these days!
My team does varied work; from maintenance on high-voltage equipment to the construction of new high-voltage equipment; and my job entails pulling all the resources together. I need to think about allocating the right amount of resources as well as getting my team to the job on the day.
Logistics are a factor - such as making sure that they know where they’re going, all the equipment’s ready to go, and the work is planned properly. My aim is to make sure that when the guys turn up on site, it all runs as smoothly as possible.
What are some of the most enjoyable things about working for TransGrid
Definitely the guys I work with. Everyone’s really friendly and gets on well. I’d also say the technology is a good thing. Finding out new things every day, I’m always learning something. The challenge is solving problems, so never a dull moment here.
Do all the people in electrotechnology have to have technology skills?
Yes, but we have a varied range of skills here. Some guys that have been here for 30 years might not be quite as up with the new technologies as the younger guys.
Other team members specialise in other areas, for example, some of the older equipment. There are definitely opportunities to learn about all the new technologies.
What’s trending now in electrotech?
Renewable energy such as solar and wind connecting to the main electricity grid.
I think solar (which you see the roof) will eventually adapt to being able to store energy for later. At the moment, solar can only be used it when it’s being produced during the day.
In the future, there’ll be energy storage, meaning that whatever electricity you’re getting during the day with the sun will be stored in batteries to use at night.
Why is electrotechnology a great trade, not just today, but as a future career?
Electricity is going to be around forever, so it’s not something that’s going to die off! People are using it more and more in fact. And into the future, there’ll be more opportunities for getting into other areas in electrotech.
Areas that might gain focus are renewable technology, solar and wind. The technologies will constantly be changing and there’ll always be something there for electricians.
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