Tash Stark, a 3rd year diesel fitter apprentice at Hastings Deering in Rockhampton
Tash Stark, a 3rd year diesel fitter apprentice at Hastings Deering in Rockhampton

Avalanche of 2700 applicants for 40 jobs

Machinery giant Hastings Deering has been swamped by a record number of applications for its 2021 apprentice intake amid signs the coronavirus pandemic is making traditional trades more attractive.

Brisbane-based Hastings opened applications for 40 positions in June for four weeks, with more than 1000 applications in the first week alone and 2695 received in total.

The company, which sells and services Caterpillar trucks, bulldozers and other heavy equipment, logged a record year for its 2020 apprenticeships with applications up by 30 per cent on the intake applications for 2019. However, this year's total topped that by 26 per cent.

Hastings Deering general manager people and external affairs Vincent Cosgrove said the majority of applications were for Brisbane diesel fitter roles followed by auto electrician apprenticeships in Brisbane and regional areas such as Rockhampton and Mackay.

"The diesel fitter apprenticeship is clearly the applicant's preferred trade across all our locations," Mr Cosgrove said.

"We received applications from every single state and territory in Australia, proving applicants are prepared to relocate."

The breakdown of applicants included 14 per cent female and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders accounting for 11 per cent.

Mr Cosgrove said so far 2000 applicants had been through to the first round of aptitude testing which form part of the recruitment process.

"Successful applicants will learn about the repair, servicing and maintenance of a massive range of Caterpillar equipment, engines and power systems," he said.

At the end of their four years' training, Hastings Deering apprentices receive a "Cat Passport" allowing them to work in Caterpillar dealerships across the world.

TAFE Queensland Brisbane general manager Paul Wilson said TAFE enrolments were up 48 per cent on last year with the coronavirus pandemic a key factor.

"It's people looking to maintain employment or people who have lost their job and are looking to retrain in a new career," Dr Wilson said.

He says there has been a bigger intake in technology and business courses as hospitality and restaurant workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic lockdown look to retrain.