A man standing in front of a large piece of machinery

What's it like being an apprentice?

24 August 2018

If you’ve finished school and you already know university isn’t your thing, you might have started to consider doing an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are great – you get hands-on experience and a qualification, all whilst getting paid. At Hydro Tasmania we have a strong history of offering apprenticeships. Our current program has been running since the 70s. And it is not just open to school leavers, anybody with an interest in gaining a trade and building a career with us is welcome.

But, what does a typical day as a Hydro apprentice look like? What kind of work do they do? And what are some of the common misconceptions about doing an apprenticeship?

To answer all these questions and more, we had a chat with Jeremy Cashion from New Norfolk who is in his third year of a mechanical apprenticeship (and loving it). Jeremy very kindly agreed to give us the inside scoop on what life as an apprentice is really like and why he thinks doing an apprenticeship at Hydro is a great idea no matter what stage of life you are at. 

What first attracted you to the idea of doing an apprenticeship with Hydro?
“Well, I always planned on doing a trade when I left school. Originally I wanted to be a carpenter but ended up as a glazier. Anyway, through doing that I got to work at some Hydro sites, just installing windows and what not. And, I remember whenever we did any work for Hydro you would always see people working on these massive machines or you know just a giant spanner on the wall or something. And I don’t know, that stuff always looked more interesting then what I was doing. Plus the Hydro guys always looked like they were having fun.”

What are some of the best things about doing your apprenticeship with Hydro?
“Because of the age of a lot of the stations, there is just always something to do. And you really can’t get exposed to this kind of work anywhere else in Australia.

Plus you get to be involved in big million dollar projects like the recent Cluny upgrade. I really like working on a big project like that. Not only do you get to work on the one project for like 12 months, but you get exposed to so many other trades and get the opportunity see how your bit of work contributes to the bigger picture of providing energy to Tasmania.

Oh yeah and unlike the other apprenticeship I did you never run out of challenges here. There is always something new to learn or do.”

What does a typical day as an apprentice look like? 
“Well, I drive past Liapootah at 0740 and drive back the other way at 1630, but honestly, anything could happen in between.

Whilst I am normally based out of Tungatinah, due to how many sites Hydro has across the State and the variety of machinery we run you really could be working anywhere and doing anything. And thanks to all the different trades that are out on site and the fact that everyone is really keen to get you on the tools no two days are ever the same. You definitely aren’t just seen as a cleaner here.” 

What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?
“Just do it. I wish I had done it years ago. I mean I know a lot of my friends would never consider doing an apprenticeship like this, especially as an adult apprentice. And life’s not all about the money but the thought of going back to apprentice wages can be a big barrier for some when they are thinking of retraining. But honestly, the wages that Hydro offers its adult and to be far its younger apprentices are definitely competitive.

Plus, for all those would be adult apprentices out there who are scared of being the old man in the room, whilst sometimes going to TAFE can feel a bit like that, at Hydro we genuinely are interested in taking on older apprentices. Our managers really encourage you to expand your trade beyond your original apprenticeship and explore other streams of work. I mean I know guys who after doing their electrical apprenticeships have then gone on to do mechanical apprenticeships with Hydro.”

What do you know now that you wish you knew on your first day? 
“Umm… If I could go back in time I would tell myself to stop worrying about what I didn’t know and to stop stressing about having to learn everything all at once. It really does take a lifetime to know everything about these power stations. I mean some of the older guys around here have literally forgotten more about these power stations then I could ever hope of learning in the four years of my apprenticeship.

Oh and bring your own teacup.”

All right, quick-fire round. Top three things about working for Hydro Tasmania?
“The people you get to work with. I don’t think I could have asked for better supervisors.

There is always a new challenge to tackle or skill to pick up. You are definitely never bored.

Oh, and I get to work in some of the best locations in the world.”

And bottom 3? 
“The cold.

Dealing with 100-year-old grease and dirt. One of the many things that we do not make like we used to is dirt.

Oh, and the snakes in summer. I hate the snakes.”


If our apprenticeship program sounds like something you or someone you know could be a part of check out our careers page for any upcoming opportunities.


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