Bright spark Ethan lands electrical job

Ethan loves his new job and is saving for his future

Ethan (centre) with On-Country Pathways General Manager, Jebb Hutchison, and BSSP General Manager, Luke Sheather

Karnadji General Manager, Frank Edwards, wants to support more Indigenous young people into construction and related trades

Springdale Heights man Ethan Scarlett, 18, is just four months into his first full-time job, with Albury’s Border Switchboards Sheetmetal & Powdercoating (BSSP), but he has his sights firmly set on the future.

“I want to get through my four-year electrical apprenticeship, and I am putting money aside each week for when I am older for a home or something like that,” he explains.

Ethan was one of On-Country Pathway’s first work experience participants and is now the first to secure full time employment, which includes working towards a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician at TAFE NSW’s Albury campus.

His boss, Luke Sheather, said BSSP quickly recognised Ethan’s potential.

“We weren’t looking to put on another first-year electrical apprentice when Ethan came in for his work experience, but I talked to the guys and they said it was going well, so we offered him a second week of work experience which turned into a job offer.”

The former Murray High School student is loving his new role. “I am not as stressed as I was when I started, I am getting the hang of it, and I am pretty chilled now. They all help me and explain things. And I think it is good that Darren is checking in.”

Darren Moffitt is On-Country Pathway’s program manager and main mentor for the participants in On-Country Pathways programs. He works with local businesses and young people to ensure everyone is getting the most out of their experience.

With a move to bigger premises and more work coming in, every day is a busy one for BSSP. Luke said: “Darren is very good to deal with. He organises everything and he made it very easy for me to have Ethan here.”

Luke’s sentiments are echoed by Frank Edwards, General Manager, Karnaji, a First Nations owned and operated electrical company. It was Frank who initially came across Ethan after a meeting with Wodonga TAFE about supporting young Indigenous people through apprenticeships.

“As opportunities present, I will take on more young people like Ethan either directly with Karnaji or with companies in my network who genuinely want to develop a diverse and inclusive workplace,” says Frank.

He added: “On-Country Pathways offers that really focussed structure and support for young people. I felt like I was flying solo after school, and it was tough in the nineties for Indigenous people to work in trades, there was a lot of stuff going on, but that is changing now.”

Back at BSSP, Luke is delighted with his new apprentice. “He has a willingness to learn, he’s keen and he’s great at taking in what we do. It’s worked out well for us, we were just helping out Frank and Karnaji, but we’ve ended up with a great employee.”

On-Country Pathways has four programs for 15- to 24-year-old First Nations people. We work with local businesses to create opportunities for work experience, traineeships, job placement and cadetships. Ethan is one of 22 young people we worked with last year. Our programs are free for participants and include mentoring throughout the placement.

If your business would like to help a young First Nations person explore career opportunities, get in touch.