Ventia employee Eddie Clarke has successfully completed his apprenticeship

With his Mechanical apprenticeship now successfully completed, a new job as Certified Tradesman, four years of world-class experience and several awards under his belt, Ventia employee Eddie Clarke is looking toward a very bright future.

One of Ventia's original 10 employees on the TRACE joint venture (JV) in Darwin, Eddie joined the company in 2017 as a General Service Technician. Through the TRACE JV, Ventia provides maintenance services at the world-leading INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG project in Darwin.

With his sights set on the future, Eddie could see the opportunities and experience on offer by working on one of the world's most significant energy developments.

He applied for a Mechanical apprenticeship and hasn't looked back. Four years on, in February 2022 Eddie completed his Certificate III in Mechanical Engineering and qualified as a Mechanical Fitter Machinist from Charles Darwin University, all while working for TRACE. He is now employed as a Certified Tradesman on the project.

According to Eddie, the experience gained working on the significant project has been life changing.

"Working on a project like Ichthys is a real career highlight," he said.

The Northern Territory is quickly becoming a recognised global oil and gas hub. The work we're doing here is second to none. This is a fast-growing industry of the future and I feel very fortunate to be part of it.

His time on the Ichthys project has seen Eddie work on many different mechanical aspects involving pumps and valves, often working directly with INPEX operators to implement mechanical isolation for shutdowns and deisolation for equipment start up.

Ventia employee Eddie Clarke doing fitting in the machine room

Eddie at work at the INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG project in Darwin.

Endless opportunities

A particular highlight was working on the shut-down of Frame 6 and Frame 7 turbines, a big overhaul which Eddie concedes was "pretty exciting" fitting work. The job involved working with various specialised contract groups, which provided valuable hands-on experience, exposure to different areas, and the chance to do some interesting work.

While the Ichthys project has certainly been a highlight, Eddie has also worked with several other local businesses during his apprenticeship, giving him further exposure, experience, and industry contacts.

One of the great benefits of Ventia's apprentice program is the rotation element.

"Particularly during COVID, this rotation system meant we could continue unhindered with our apprenticeships, as even though some projects were shut down for a period of time, Ventia worked in collaboration with local businesses to secure placements for us. I was fortunate to spend most of my time learning from qualified trades people at Winnellie Hydraulics," he said. 

"The opportunity to be outplaced with another local company to learn new skills was a benefit in disguise during COVID, and of course provided extra resourcing to local partners," Eddie said.

This commitment and effort to support Ventia apprentices was recognised with TRACE selected as a finalist for the Resources Supply and Service Award in the 2020 Northern Territory Export and Industry Awards. The award acknowledged Ventia's outstanding achievement and resilience in diversifying our apprentice training program and engaging local businesses to identify placements for apprentices that were temporarily impacted by business changes as a result of COVID-19.

TRACE selected as a finalist for the Resources Supply and Service Award in the 2020 Northern Territory Export and Industry Awards

Eddie's hard work and commitment has earned him several impressive awards.

Eddie proudly identifies as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and encourages others within his community to seek out the opportunities provided by the many projects on offer in the Northern Territory and around Australia. He explains:

The unknown can be daunting, I get that, I've been there. But tap in, give it a go, meet the company halfway, and see where it takes you.

Wise words from someone whose hard work and commitment has earned him several impressive awards including Group Training Northern Territory Outstanding Second Year Apprentice in 2020; also in 2020 the Broadspectrum (now Ventia) Apprentice of the Year, and in 2021 the NT NAIDOC Apprentice of the Year.

Eddie was also invited to speak about his career and the positive aspects of working at Ichthys LNG project, at a Facing North resources event at Parliament House in Canberra.

As for the future? Eddie looks forward to many years of interesting and rewarding projects with TRACE.

I've got a great job with a great roster, which importantly for me means I'm home each night with my wife and two children, enjoying a great life.