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Main: Apprentices at Yamba Welding and Engineering Pty Ltd (back l-r) Jeff O’Connell, Richard Brown, Liam Clarke (front) Chet Radanovic, Tom Sutton, Bowen Guyer and Isaac Edwards (Toran Ryan – not pictured). Inset: From (l-r) YWE finance manager Kathie Clarke and YWE managing director speak with NSW Deputy Premier and Minster for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, during his visit to the Clarence Valley last month. Images: Lynne Mowbray.

Yamba business building our future

Main: Apprentices at Yamba Welding and Engineering Pty Ltd (back l-r) Jeff O’Connell, Richard Brown, Liam Clarke (front) Chet Radanovic, Tom Sutton, Bowen Guyer and Isaac Edwards (Toran Ryan – not pictured). Inset: From (l-r) YWE finance manager Kathie Clarke and YWE managing director speak with NSW Deputy Premier and Minster for Regional NSW, John Barilaro, during his visit to the Clarence Valley last month. Images: Lynne Mowbray.

A Yamba business has taken on four new apprentices this year, which has doubled their number of apprentices on staff.
Yamba Welding and Engineering Pty Ltd (YWE) which started in 1974 with two staff, has now grown to a total of 28 employees.
One of the new apprentices Jeff O’Connell 32, had been employed as a ‘Boatswain’s Mate’ in the Navy and was based in Darwin for eight years, prior to his employment with YWE.
Mr O’Connell said that he had a young family and he was not gaining any usable skills in his former job that he could use in obtaining a future career.
“I grew up here (in the Clarence Valley) and wanted to move home,” said Mr O’Connell.
“I obtained a job at YWE through TURSA in July last year as a storeman and transferred, to start my apprenticeship in December.
“It’s great to have an opportunity to get a trade, especially at my age and especially around Yamba.
“At the moment I’m working on the cabin of one of the police boats (in here), sanding, grinding and doing some welding.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do something that really interests me.”
Chet Radanovic 14, has a school based apprenticeship with YWE.
Chet said that he got his apprenticeship after he and his mother had dropped his resume in to YWE.
“Boat building was always an interest of mine,” said Chet.
“After dropping in my resume I received a call and came in for an interview.
“The other guys here are helping me and I’m learning a lot from them.
“It’s a good trade to get into, working with aluminium and when my apprenticeship finishes, I’m sure I’ll keep going with it.
“I’m enjoying it and love what I’m doing.”
Isaac Edwards has been an apprentice for almost four years and said that he loves working with aluminium.
“It’s a lot cleaner to work with than steel,” said Mr Edwards.
“We’ve got an excellent bunch of guys here and YWE are good people to work for.
“It’s a great place to work with excellent opportunities and working on good boats.”
The apprentices are also provided with additional skills outside their apprenticeships.
There are no boat building courses available through TAFE locally, with the nearest being either Southport or Sydney.
YWE has a consulting welding inspector who visits a number of times during the year to certify the apprentices and tradesmen to the Australian Standard in aluminium welding.
At the moment YWE have nine boats in their huge workshop located in Yamba’s Industrial Estate (which they are fast outgrowing).
YWE Managing Director Bill Collingburn said that at the moment they have defence force work, as well as a number of vessels with several police forces, from all around Australia.
“We currently have $7m in contracted work with $11m under negotiations,” said Mr Collingburn.
“At the moment we are in negotiations for more Commonwealth and State Government contracts.
“We are the biggest aluminium boat building business in NSW, but we are cramped and need to move.”
“We are pushing ahead with plans to move to our property on Palmers Island, which is currently before the government department ‘Gateway’ (which assists businesses to move forward).
“When we move to Palmers Island, I’ll be able to double my intake of apprentices and tradesmen and semi-skilled labour.
“I love putting kids through here and our apprentices learn all disciplines of the metal fabrication and boat building trades.
“They not only carry out metal fabrication but engineering such as fitting propellers, shafts, inboard and outboard engines, fuel systems etc; all different aspects of boat building.
“The boys get a lot of job satisfaction out of it.
“We’ve got a dedicated staff and we’re proud of what we do.”

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