Apprenticeship sparks lifelong journey of learning and success

An additive manufacturing specialist announced as a winner at the TafeSA 2022 Honour Awards last month has credited his Ai Group apprenticeship for launching his successful career. 

Dale Goldfinch, who works in the fast-moving and emerging area of additive manufacturing for the Defence Department’s Defence Science and Technology Group, was recognised for being a high achieving alumnus of TafeSA within the Future Industries category. 

The category recognised finalists working in and contributing to future-focused, emerging and new industries, including but not limited to: 

  • the space industry,  
  • digital infrastructure,  
  • renewable energy,  
  • VFX, VR and AR,  
  • the defence industry, 
  • agribusiness,  
  • high-tech business services,  
  • health and medical industries and 
  • creative industries. 

Mr Goldfinch, who finished his engineering fabrication apprenticeship and TAFE studies in 2012, said his Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre (Ai Group ATC) mentor Rob Drysdale had encouraged him to fulfill his potential, enter industry awards and view learning as a lifelong journey. 

“Doing an apprenticeship is a stepping stone,” he said. 

“It’s not the end, it’s the beginning. While I did my apprenticeship, I completed an Engineering Diploma at night which I’ve used to get a better job.  

“I still haven’t finished learning. Now I’m doing my degree in mechanical engineering. There’s always something new to learn. Even if your end goal is to become a degree-qualified engineer, the skills you learn during an apprenticeship make you so much more valuable because you understand how things work. 

“The number of times a purely theoretical engineer has come to me, as a tradesperson, and said: ‘Can you make this?’ and I just look at it and say: ‘There’s not a physical way that I can make that for you’.    

“The skills you learn in your apprenticeship make you so much more employable. 

“If you want to go further, it will help you.” 

During his apprenticeship, Mr Goldfinch — pictured above left receving his TafeSA 2022 Honour Award — was a finalist in the SA Training Awards Apprentice of the Year and won the SA Apprentice of the Year in the Group Training Awards Apprentice of the Year Awards. 

“Ai Group ATC was helpful in encouraging me to enter these awards,” Mr Goldfinch said. 

“They were always there to help.” 

The peace of mind that comes with working for a group training organisation (GTO) is invaluable, Mr Goldfinch said. 

“One of the biggest benefits a GTO provides is stability,” he added. 

“If you start a private apprenticeship and the company goes under, you’re stuffed.  

“You have to find someone else willing to take you on whereas going through a GTO, they will help you. That’s a massive plus”. 

Mr Goldfinch, who operates metal and plastic 3D printers, has played a crucial role in providing additive manufacturing training to Australia’s Special Forces soldiers. 

Recently, he helped develop novel heat shielding structures for complex hypersonic flight vehicles. 

He regularly takes part in national working groups, contributes to research papers and has received a number of commendations and internal awards while working for the Defence Science and Technology Group. 

Mr Goldfinch says the future is bright for apprentices, with the current labour shortage creating strong demand for tradespeople.  

“The wages that tradespeople earn are only going up, for the simple fact that every year that goes by, people are retiring, and the number of qualified tradespeople out there is falling,” he said. 

“To anyone thinking about starting an apprenticeship, I say: ‘Go for it’.” 

The 10 winners of the TAFE SA Honour Awards 2022 were announced at a prestigious award ceremony hosted by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Phillip Martin, at Adelaide Town Hall on December 1. 

Looking to launch a career in the in-demand fields of engineering or additive manufacturing? Get started with an apprenticeship or traineeship. A trusted and respected GTO like the Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre will have your back.