Up and coming

The value of Apprenticeships was emphasised at the 2021 Australian Marine Industry Awards.

17 June 2021


A highlight of the ASMEX 2021 Conference at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, the Awards included for the second year running the ‘Apprentice of the Year’ Award to recognise and develop youth working in the industry.

This year’s winner was Robert Smith from Superior Jetties, who received the Award from TAFE Qld, the presenting partner for the 2021 Award.

Robert joined Superior Jetties as a labourer after four years in the construction industry.

Dedicated to learning and constantly applying himself, Robert fast-tracked his training and completed his IC3 Engineering – Fabrication Trade 3 Apprenticeship in June 2020.

Robert can accurately and competently complete an entire job from reading and interpreting drawings, actual fabrication/construction through to installation. These skills have allowed him to work on some of the most significant jobs Superior Jetties has recently completed.


Robert’s achievement was awarded a trip to Amsterdam including flights, accommodation and transfers to attend the upcoming METSTRADE show in November – the largest marine equipment tradeshow in the world.

He will accompany the 2020 award winner, Jasmine Willoughby from Aus Ships based at Rivergate, Brisbane.

Robert Smith said, “This apprenticeship has been a life changer and given me a purpose and a real chance to pursue further education and my long-term goals.”

John Hogan, CEO of Superior Jetties said, “With aspirations to become a marine engineer, the skills gained throughout his apprenticeship have contributed significantly to Robert’s future study plans”.

“He is now equipped with the skills and confidence to complete a Bachelor of Applied Science at university and pursue his engineering dreams.

“Superior Jetties is committed to personal development, and we have subsidised education in the past as we did for Robert to allow him to transition.”

Young people and industry training have been a passion for John Hogan after being awarded a mature-aged apprenticeship as a boilermaker.

Superior employs apprentices, trainees and tertiary work experience students. In previous years, John spent time with Riviera’s -fourth-year apprentices, highlighting the career paths in the marine industry.

TAFE Queensland’s Gold Coast Region’s Director of Business Development, Simon Hislop said “The Apprentice of the Year award grants opportunities for those nominated to be acknowledged for their hard work and devotion, as well as celebrating the accomplishments of our future tradespeople whilst encouraging continued excellence and permanency in the workplace”.

This year’s finalists included Aiden Barnes – Riviera; Nick Carden – Onboard Engineering; Robbie Beale and Jasmine Willoughby – Aus Ships and Robert Smith – Superior Jetties.

“The value of apprenticeships to the longevity of the marine industry, in particular, is critical and significant,” said David Good, CEO of AIMEX.

“This award category was introduced last year at the 2020 awards as part of our strategic focus on recruitment and training for the industry.

“Apprenticeships are the lifeblood of our industry, and we encourage senior management and key industry players to support the ongoing initiative, which ensures our skilled workers are maintained and recognised for their contribution to the success of the industry.”

Australian manufacturer, Riviera is a perfect case study. Its highly respected apprenticeship program currently has over 100 trainees and has boosted the talented group of craftspeople at Riviera to more than 800 people today.

Riviera’s owner, Rodney Longhurst, who is also a TAFE qualified carpenter and joiner, said their training program fosters life-long skills in craftsmanship excellence, qualities for which Riviera is world-renowned.

“Our philosophy is that to build world-class luxury motor yachts, we need to create world-class craftsmen and women so we welcome the next generation of master boat builders to our industry and are proud that they will receive high quality training from our exceptional team,” he said.

“At Riviera, we offer so much more than a standard apprenticeship. The success of our program over the past 25 years and our excellent retention rates affirm Riviera as an employer of choice on both the local and global stage.

“Our apprentices are consistently the recipients of industry awards and recognised as leaders in their trades.”


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