A North Queensland teacher turned tradie was announced as the winner of the CSQ Apprentice of the Year at the 2015 Queensland Training Awards.
Rio Tinto employee Aaron Lobley was recognised at the prestigious Awards for his efforts as a mature-age refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic working on the company’s Weipa bauxite mine.
A quick learner, Aaron completed his trade more than one year ahead of schedule, at age 36, and is now working on the bauxite site as a Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Technician.
In his diverse role, Aaron services and repairs refrigeration and air conditioning units across the operation. These units are placed in offices, workshops, electrical substations and at the site’s powerhouse.
Aaron said he was able to draw on his experiences as a teacher throughout the course of his apprenticeship.
“Working as a teacher really helped me to prepare and implement strategies for managing my assessments.
“It also helped me to develop a range of interpersonal skills, which are very useful in negotiation situations and dealing with different personalities,” he said.
Aaron doesn’t hesitate to recommend a mature-age apprenticeship to others who might be considering a career in construction.
“It is a big leap to pursue a mature-age apprenticeship, but if you put your head down and motivate yourself to achieve competence quickly, you can potentially complete it earlier.
“Construction is a very rewarding career and I feel my hard work has definitely been worthwhile.
“At the moment, I am gaining more experience in my trade and have had the opportunity to step into a supervisor role a couple of times,” he said.

Aaron is continuing his studies in the classroom, completing a dual diploma in Business and Management.
With his unique mix of skills and hunger to learn more, the future certainly looks bright for Aaron.