Industry News

Bright future for young apprentice technician

Sonny King has always been interested in trucks thanks to his grandfather Billy, who was a light vehicle mechanic.

“I used to help him in his workshop on weekends when I was younger, and I learned a lot from him,” he said.

“My grandfather got me interested in the industry, and I know there’s always going to be a need for trucks in Australia so I saw a future there.”

When Sonny finished Year 11, he was offered an apprenticeship with Westar Truck Centre in Campbellfield, Victoria.

Now aged 19, he’s still working for them while studying to become a diesel technician.

“My work sends me to the Kangan Institute in Melbourne for week blocks as part of my apprenticeship,” he explained.

“I’m now in my third year studying Heavy Diesel Automotive at Kangan, and my fourth year will be just working with Westar.

“After that, I’ll be officially qualified as a diesel technician.”

Sonny enjoys the balance of classroom-based learning at the Kangan Institute and hands-on experience at Westar.

“I always end up going to Kangan with my own ideas of the product and how things work, but they teach me other ways of doing things,” he said.

Everyone in Sonny’s class also works for Westar, though not necessarily in the same branch.

“Kangan has mainstream students and it has ‘key clients’,” he explained.

“Westar is a key client so everyone from my class is sent there as a group.

“We all know each other and there’s a good mix of people in there.

“My teacher James is great – he actually used to work for Westar himself.”

The Melbourne native is particularly interested in new systems on Western Star and MAN trucks.

“Out of all the products that we work on, I find them the most interesting,” he said.

“I think MAN’s engineering is quite amazing and they are going the right way about things, to create a stable product.

“I wanted to learn more about MAN products, so I reached out to my employers and started doing online courses, and I’m actually doing in-person training at one of our other branches this week.”

Sonny is also interested in developing diagnostic skills to further explore the electrical systems of trucks.

“When I started my apprenticeship, I was mainly doing light repairs and as I progressed I got into doing diagnostic work.

“I’ve found that I really enjoy that so I want to further my diagnostic skills.

“I’ve been told it’s a very handy skillset to have.”

He is keen to learn more about electric trucks, as he believes they will play an increasingly prominent role in the trucking industry in the future.

“I’m interested in how things are going in the EV world, and it’s something they have the facilities to cover at the Kangan Institute,” he said.

“It’s definitely something I want to look into.”

Sonny encourages other young people to consider an apprenticeship in the road transport sector.

“It’s an industry that’s not going anywhere – there will always be opportunities available,” he said.

“There’s such a wide variety of things to learn and ways to upskill.

“I think there’s a bright future in doing a heavy diesel apprenticeship.”

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