Meet Ace McKonkey – he’s one of our newest apprentices working at one of Melbourne’s largest water companies – City West Water – based at the Brooklyn depot. When Ace finished high school two years ago, he knew he wanted a practical job with variety.
A stint in concreting linked him to tradespeople who recommended Programmed as an employer and suggested he apply for opportunities on the City West Water contract.
Now, six months into his traineeship, he is learning something every day and would encourage high school students considering career options to keep an open mind and not be pressured by anyone else to pursue a course or job if their heart isn’t in it.
How did you first start working for Programmed?
Originally when I finished school at Kensington Community School I was keen on a career that was practical and not the typical 9-5. I started out doing a concreting apprenticeship and some of the team I met there mentioned there were opportunities with Programmed and recommended I apply.
Did you always know you wanted to be an apprentice?
I always knew I wanted to do something practical but I was very focused on completing my VCAL first. Now I would say to someone that there are many different pathways you can take like VCAL as well so it’s not all about VCE – you can start apprenticeships earlier and if it’s what you want to do, just go for it!
“Young people can get a lot of pressure to study at uni but if your heart is not it, there is no point. You have to do what is right for you,” says Ace.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I have been working with City West since January and every day is different. I am shadowing a ‘runner’ or response officer, at the moment and based at the Brooklyn depot. The runner’s job is to respond to the customers calling for assistance when assessing a fault.
No one day is the same. It depends on which jobs we are dispatched to but in a typical day I could be attending burst water mains or doing a meter repair job. The average job may take an hour or so including the safety checks at the beginning but it depends on if there are other issues that come up.
I also get to work on what we call ‘shutdowns’ with the team that includes Water Main Isolations – this involves shutting valves in the network, after notifying the customers which we do through a personal letter drop to the affected customers. We shut the valves and isolate the water supply so essential maintenance work can be carried out. Once the maintenance work has been completed we reverse the isolation and restore the water supply to the customers who were affected for a satisfactory outcome.
What’s been one of the highlights for you?
Working with customers and seeing their reaction when you fix an issue and get their water back up and running. Knowing I’ve done a good job that directly helps people is really rewarding for me. The training and support has been great and I’ve learnt more about how water faults are diagnosed and repaired as well. There are new innovations and technology added every day in the water industry so it’s great to be part of it.
What stood out for you when you started this traineeship?
The safety standards are really strong. I’ve learnt so much and most importantly that all accidents are preventable. Safety is part of everything we do at Programmed and City West and I’ve really noticed the difference compared to my previous apprenticeship.
How do you find the team?
The team have been really welcoming and supportive. I’m learning a lot from everyone and it’s opened my eyes to the different careers in the water industry. You can start off in operations and work your way up into more of a leadership role.
What would you say to a young school leaver thinking of pursuing an apprenticeship?
There isn’t just one option or pathway to where you want to go. Don’t be pressured into thinking that you have to go to university. A trades-ship is a great way to learn on the job and get paid while developing your skills.
To learn more about apprenticeships and traineeships visit www.programmed.com.au/careers/apprenticeships-and-traineeships