Meet our Top 20 technicians under 25 years of age. They are not listed in any specific order, they are all NextGen champions.
1. Lachlan Drewes, a fourth year apprentice at System Air on the Gold Coast, Queensland. The 20-year-old enjoys being a RAC technician because the role is so varied and interesting.
“It is the best trade by far because it incorporates everything, a bit of plumbing, electrical trades and HVAC,” he says.
“My day includes regular maintenance duties, breakdowns, and the opportunity to work on a wide variety of equipment from high wall splits to VRV, DX packaged units, refrigeration and hydronic systems.
“This is a trade that can take you anywhere because it’s so broad.
“The biggest challenge with this trade is visibility but once you know about it and realise how interesting it is, there are plenty of opportunities.”
But that is exactly what NextGen is all about, raising the profile of the RAC trade and attracting more apprentices.
“I was lucky because I lived across the road from someone already in the trade and they offered me an apprenticeship straight out of school,” Drewes says.
2. Meet SystemAir second year apprentice, Scott Davies. There must be something in the water at SystemAir because the apprentices there are passionate about what they do and it shows in their work.
Davies is only in his second year but is already securing contracts. His customer service skills are impressive. He was sent out on a site recently to replace a couple of filters and returned to his workplace with a maintenance contract.
Scott spent the first four years of his working life in the air force and was deployed overseas. When he returned he began his trade and the 23 year old hasn’t looked back. He likes all areas of the trade but has taken a particular interest in hydronics, water balancing and chillers. It’s an area he may explore further after completing his trade.
3. Abbey McGeachin is a third year apprentice at D&T Refrigeration in Melbourne. Abbey studies at Box Hill TAFE and loves her job because “no two days are the same.”
She also loves to showcase her skills in a male dominated industry. “I feel my fellow work mates have accepted me for who I am and they see me as one of the team,” Abbey says. “I love being a part of a company that treats you like family. We have an excellent culture which makes coming into work easy, it doesn’t feel like a chore.”
The best part of the job is working in different locations across Melbourne and solving client problems.
Abbey was introduced to the trade by a relative. Before that, she knew nothing about trade. “I hadn’t even heard of it and sadly, this seems to be the norm.”
Her future goals? “Finish my apprenticeship and then I would like to do large scale commercial refrigeration installations.”
4. Canberra-based apprentice, Ryan Harris, is in his final year at ETS Refrigeration.
He is looking forward to completing his trade and taking on more challenging jobs as his skills improve. Ryan is one of the lucky ones. He was about to start an apprenticeship as an electrician but was saved by ETS Refrigeration. The 20-year-old loves the versatility of the RAC trade.
“We learn everything here although I prefer the refrigeration work over the AC side,” he says. “We do commercial refrigeration projects here but as an apprentice I had to start at the bottom of course.
“I first began doing jobs at small cafes – the big jobs were for the big guys. But now I’ve started doing more challenging work and have worked my way up to being on call.”
5. Jayson James of Technichill in South Australia, will be a fully qualified technician by the time this NextGen Report is published. Jayson said he was always technically minded and loves problem solving.
Jayson, completed his apprenticeship this year but says he was always had a technical bent and interest in problem solving.
A career in refrigeration and air conditioning wasn’t a big discovery for Jayson, he simply followed n his father’s footsteps. He did try a few jobs after completing high school but wanted to work with his hands so a trade seemed the best option.
“I really enjoy a job where I can use my knowledge of a refrigeration system, getting all the different system readings to figure out exactly what is happening in each area of the system and then coming up with the correct solution to get it running successfully,” he says.
“It is a good feeling leaving a job knowing the system won’t break down and the problem is solved.” Future plans?
“I would like to learn more about controls of air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Also to work on different types of systems I haven’t worked on yet.”
6. Tom Clancy is a third year apprentice at Central West Refrigeration in Perth.
The 18-year-old apprentice had a bit of a headstart because he grew up around the business and now works for his father, Chris Clancy. While Tom is still working on install at the moment, he definitely leans towards ‘service’.
Chris says his son always planned on doing a trade and is glad that he chose RAC.
Tom told CCN he loves the trade and the free tools are an added bonus. “It really is unfortunate that it is such an ‘invisible trade’ because it’s a great job,” Tom says.
7. Jared Tesch is a third year apprentice at AlphaCool in Cairns, Queensland. The 19-year-old first heard about the trade through his father.
“I got into my trade by spending my two weeks school holidays doing work experience. I then became a TA for a couple of months before starting my apprenticeship,” Jared says.
“AlphaCool was the third company I did work experience for and felt it was the best option for me.
“I love the complexity of my work I actually enjoy fixing refrigeration systems when they break down.” Jared has big career plans and is keen to travel around Australia so he can work on as many systems as possible. “One day I hope to complete a Degree in Refrigeration Engineering, so I can be a site supervisor or project manager for a big business or mining site. “
8. AJ Baker & Sons fourth year apprentice, Michael Sadler, is the son of a fridgie. “My father always worked in the trade,” Michael explains. “He still works in it today.” In fact, Michael’s father worked at AJ Baker & Sons before Michael joined the company. “He helped me get work experience here before I started my apprenticeship,” Michael says.
Michael’s father has since moved on and is now working at Woolworths.
Asked what he likes most about the trade, the 21-year-old said it is a job with a variety of challenges. “We actually get to think and every day is new, it is never the same,” he says. “Plus, I enjoy being out on the road.”
9. Central Air Victoria apprentice Timothy Hamilton cannot remember a time when he didn’t have a passion for fixing things and tinkering with tools.
The 19-year-old, second year apprentice considers himself lucky to be able to do a job that he enjoys.
“What I like most about the job is working on the big refrigeration and air-conditioning systems and working out what’s wrong, it’s just like doing a big logic puzzle, and they’re really fun to solve,” Timothy says.
“My dad has been a fridgie for my entire life, so it’s an industry that has always been a part of the family. He was even a teacher for a few years at Box Hill TAFE.
“When my father purchased a refrigeration and air-conditioning business, I got a job working for him.”
Timothy says he originally planned to become an engineer but a couple of years on the job learning the trade has changed his mind.
“I might stick with this industry and when I’ve finished my apprenticeship as a fridgie, I might go back to TAFE and do an electrical apprenticeship, so that there’s more of a range of stuff I’m able to fix,” he says.
10. Adam Conroy is a third year apprentice at Air Cool Air Conditioning and Refrigeration in Bathurst. Adam saya he gets to tackle a wide variety of jobs from domestic installs through to commercial projects.
The 22-year-old tried his hand at a few things before becoming a RAC technician. “First I went to university, then I did a year of labouring but since I began this trade I haven’t looked back,” he says. “It all started when I worked for my mate’s dad just helping out over the weekend, soon after I began my trade.”
While Adam is very happy with his current role he would like to begin a second trade as an electrician. “Long term I would like to have my own set up and I think having both trades would put me in a good position.”
11. AJ Baker & Sons third year apprentice, Liam Tuffley, became an apprentice by accident.
This 21-year-old went for a job interview to become an electrician but the position was taken. Instead, they offered an apprenticeship as a RAC technician so Liam gave it a try.
“It was a bit random at the time but now I am glad, it’s a great trade,” he says . After six months on the job, Liam joined AJ Baker & Sons and hasn’t looked back. “This job isn’t about one specific task there is plenty of variety; every job is different,” he says.
While Liam is currently doing service jobs, he wants to remain working in supermarket refrigeration and to eventually go into setting up stores. “Whatever happens I will definitely stay in the trade,” Liam says.
12. Oscar Miller of Allied Air Conditioning and Refrigeration in Coffs Harbour is a fourth year apprentice. Oscar is proud to have been born into a big family of fridgies and sheeties – there are 13 in total.
Oscar says he was fascinated by the trade at an early age. The 22-year-old is constantly learning and his problem-solving skills are always being put to the test.
“I work with people who are eager to teach and share their knowledge plus I get to work alongside family members,” Oscar adds.
Once he is a fully qualified service technician, Oscar wants to begin his second apprenticeship as a sparky. “It will allow me to do more in-depth work with controls and commission large systems. Long term it would be great to eventually do a diploma in engineering, then I can design systems mechanically and electronically.”
13. Second year apprentice Talara Welling always wanted to do a trade, she just wasn’t sure which one it would be.
The 22-year-old is employed at Northern Air in Lismore, northern NSW. “I planned to be a sparky but couldn’t get an apprenticeship and then I came across refrigeration and air conditioning,” she says. “I didn’t even know the trade existed.”
Talara says it was a lucky discovery because now she loves it.
“I like a job that is hands-on and has plenty of variety. There is a bit of electrical, a bit of plumbing, it isn’t repetitive at all.”
Talara is keen to learn more and enjoys working at Northern Air. “My focus now is to complete my trade then I will think about what’s next; I know I will definitely stay in the trade.”
14. Coolmaster NT second year apprentice, Jesse Brown, is based in Darwin and is proudly representing the Northern Territory. The 19-year-old always knew he would be a tradie.
“I had two weeks work experience with Coolmaster NT and really liked it; an opportunity to join as an apprentice opened up not long after so I started work the following year,” Jesse says.
Although he gave other jobs a try, Jesse says being a RAC technician is different to anything else he had tried previously. “It certainly keeps me busy because it’s a challenge, not just another job,” he explains. Jesse’s plans for the future include getting a dual trade. Then he plans to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Border Force.
15. Jake Docksey is a fourth year apprentice at JD Refrigeration in Sydney.
He first heard about the trade through a family friend. The 21 year-old enjoys working on new installs and plans on developing his project management skills further down the track.
“I will definitely stay in the trade,” he says. Jake agrees that RAC is an invisible trade but believes it actually benefits technicians that are working in the industry because they are in high demand. “It is the reason why we are well-paid compared to other trades,” he says.
While there are a lot of people working on the air conditioning side of the industry, Jake says there are a lot less doing refrigeration because it is a bit more complicated. “It’s not just connecting two pipes, there is more to it,” he says.
16. M.C. Industries third year apprentice Dylan Fitsimmons is from the Sunshine State and discovered the RAC trade through a mate. “It was a mate’s dad, I started working for him and really liked the trade,” Dylan says. “I enjoy being out on the road and going out and fixing things.”
Being a technician wasn’t his first job. Before starting his apprenticeship Dylan spent three years cutting concrete. “That was hard work and definitely not as interesting,” he says. Dylan’s immediate goal is to complete his apprenticeship.
“I will definitely stay in the trade,” he adds.
17. Darwin is home to some impressive apprentices, certainly the most enthusiastic. Sims Refrigeration & Air Conditioning first year apprentice, Ethan Fielder-Izzillo, cannot think of another trade that even compares with RAC. “Our job is never the same and when I arrive at work I don’t know what to expect and that keeps it interesting,” Ethan says.
”I also really enjoy Oxy/Acet Welding. Although I haven’t done a lot of it and I am still trying to perfect my flames for different pipe sizes I really enjoy trying to perfect my welds.”
The 20-year-old wants to stay in the trade and to be working at Sims “for many moons”. Any goals? “When my time comes and I finish my trade I want to have the most awesome Ute set up ever seen,” Ethan says.
18. The second Sims Refrigeration & Air Conditioning apprentice to make the Top 20 is Zac Bates. The 19-year-old apprentice has a real thirst for knowledge and is keen to continue learning about refrigeration long after he completes his trade.
Zac knew he wanted to be a RAC technician while he was still in high school and completed his work experience at Sims. “I was lucky I knew a tradesman that was already employed at Sims,” Zac says.
“Since I began my apprenticeship I have learnt something new every day and that is the best part of the job. The only long term plans I have right now is to keep learning and to become a knowledgeable tradesman.” What a noble goal!
19. Joseph Pringle is a second year apprentice at MP Commercial Refrigeration in Adelaide.
The 19-year-old says the best part of the job is investigating problems and solving them.
“I also enjoy being out and about, not sitting behind a desk,” Joseph says.
Prior to commencing his apprenticeship, Joseph was working in the nearby vineyards as a labourer and did that for almost two years.
“This job is so much better, I will definitely be staying in the trade,” he says.
“I prefer the commercial refrigeration side of the business more than air conditioning so I plan on learning more in the future.”
20. Cool Cats Air Conditioning and Refrigeration apprentice, Henry Cunningham, spent three years as a sparky before making the switch to refrigeration and air conditioning.
“Being a technician is a lot more hands-on than being a sparky plus there is a lot more thinking involved,” he says.
The 19-year-old didn’t even know the trade existed until he began his apprenticeship. “I had an injury when I was a sparky and was off work for months,” he says. “When I returned to work I did 10 weeks in air conditioning and decided I liked it better,” he says. “There is more variety we are never in one spot we go all over Sydney.”
We already knew which trade was better but its always good to get confirmation.