Patrick Downey-Hart has a natural green thumb and a deep connection to the land so it was no surprise he was doing so well at his Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management that he was snapped up by Penfold Projects to work on some of their prestigious landscape architecture projects.
It’s a dream job for an apprentice to be able to work on such a wide variety of projects rather than just domestic or just commercial because this is the time an apprentice needs to acquire as much experience as possible before they qualify and are a recognised tradesperson in their own right.
Dane Thies, Penfold Projects’ Operations Manager talked about the experience Patrick is now getting on all aspects of landscape construction, maintenance, revegetation and environmental control works across Brisbane, Gold & Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Gladstone. In recent years Penfold Projects has worked on some of the biggest infrastructure projects in Queensland and Australia.
According to Adam Clarke, MEGT Australia State Manager, being a local Aboriginal Australian has provided Patrick with a strong foundation to learn about – and appreciate – the connection and structure of the environment. “Landscape architecture is about blending the built environment with the natural environment – making it functional as well as sustainable,” explains Clarke. “I have been part of the team overseeing his apprenticeship for the last three years – as we do for most of the apprentices in this region, and I’ve seen how he has applied his knowledge and talent to his studies as well as his work.”
The Bureau of Statistics census in 2011 states Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-64 were more than three times as likely as non-Indigenous people in the same age group to be unemployed and that education (or the lack of it) makes the greatest contribution to the gap in labour market outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people.
Mr Clarke goes on to say “We want to make the point to Australian businesses that employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is something practical they can do to invest in their local community.
“Apprentices don’t qualify for their profession unless they can demonstrate what they learn is definitely something they can apply to their work. That’s why the apprenticeship system provides an equal employment capacity platform for all Australians.”
Australian Apprenticeships are an Australian government initiative.