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20 July, 2021

Local award finalist shows that persistence pays off

After spending several years on the floor before taking an opportunity to complete an apprentice role, Oakey Beef Exports employee Hans van der Merwe is proof that hard work and commitment never goes unnoticed, being named a finalist in Darling Downs South West Region Training Awards.

Oakey Beef Exports HR Coordinator Nathalia Barbosa with electrician and training awards finalist Hans van der Merwe.

The 28-years-old Oakey resident and now fully qualified electrician is one of three people from across the Darling Downs to be announced a finalist in the Harry Hauenschild Apprentice of the Year section.

Hans is also joined by employer, Oakey Beef Exports, which is also a finalist in the awards and is contesting the Large Employer of the Year category.

Although Hans had worked at Oakey Beef for about six years before taking on the apprenticeship, he said he knew that he was always going to become an electrician. 

“I chopped and changed my mind when I was in high school. But in the end I went back to wanting to be an electrician,” he said.

Hans didn’t have to look far for inspiration with his father working as an electrician and now teaching the skill at TAFE.

Hans said this family connection definitely drew him to the field and the wide variety of work on offer to electricians.

But with the qualification taking about four years to finish, Hans said he was aware that it would take more than a passing interest to remain committed to the training.

He said it was the years working hard on the kill floor that made him motivated to move forward.

“I worked my ass off for like six years to try and get this and I was not going to take it for granted,” he said.

“Now, I get to do stuff that I really enjoy.”

After finishing the apprenticeship in September, Hans is already preparing for his next career step.

He is taking on some responsibility with tasks at the plate freezer and is hoping to undertake more training, such as in hazardous areas which will broaden his competencies.

Hans has also taken on the role of mentoring other apprentices at Oakey Beef.

Training coordinator Kay Jurd said Hans’ leadership potential and commitment has made him a stand out at the local business.

“He has excelled in everything that he has done and his commitment was there all the way through,” she said.

“He has also demonstrated a level of maturity you don’t always see.”

HR Coordinator Nathalia Barbosa also praised Hans’ overall dedication.

“He’s very committed. He’s always here and never takes days off,” she said.

The winners will be announced online on July 30.

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