Damien Broom is Hasting Deering's oldest recruit in the new 2020 apprentice intake.
Damien Broom is Hasting Deering's oldest recruit in the new 2020 apprentice intake.

Hastings’ new recruit trades music touring life for new gig

HE HAS toured the USA ­playing guitar alongside the legendary Phil Emmanuel, along with performing with Ted Mulry and his gang - even country music's Lee Kernagan, but Damien Broom is readying for a new gig.

The Parkhurst local has put down his guitar, rolling up his sleeves to join 75 new ­apprentices for their first day of work with Hastings Deering at its Brisbane headquarters.

Not only is he the only ­engine reconditioner ­apprentice but at 45, Damien is also the oldest apprentice for the cohort, proving you are never too old for a career change.

"I have worked for 19 years with Green Brothers Music in William St along with ­performing professionally since I was 16," he said.

"It is getting harder to earn a living as a musician, but I have always been interested in cars and machinery, so I decided the time was ripe to purse this dream.

"I have also restored a 69 Dodge Charger, just like the one from Dukes of Hazzard, so want to take that hobby to a whole new level."

While he is best known for repairing guitars, Damien can't wait to get his hands on the large machines and the ­divorced father of two boys, aged 16 and 18, is not phased that his sons are closer in age to some of the new apprentices, than he is.

"It's a real mixed group," he said.

"Two of the lads here are yet to turn 18, while we have two other apprentices in their 30s, everyone is just really ­supportive of each other."

While Mackay has the ­biggest intake of the group with 34 apprentices, ­Rockhampton has 15 in the class of 2020 including two ­female recruits, diesel fitter ­apprentices, Taylah Rossow, 22 and Brodie Harris, 25.

Hastings Deering is a ­registered training ­organisation with 'state of the art' learning centres in ­Brisbane and PNG.

The company is ­Queensland's third largest trainer of apprentices outside two government organisations.

Hastings Deering was swamped by a record 2177 ­applications when it closed off the 2020 registrations in ­August last year, with more than 1000 applications in the first week alone.

The 2020 total was an ­increase of nearly 30 per cent on the 2019 apprentice intake application figures.

Diesel fitting was the most popular apprenticeship, and this was reflected in the final number with 12 of the 15 ­Rockhampton 2020 ­apprentices starting in this trade along with Damien in engine reconditioning and John Koffke and Dallas Kuhn who are training to be auto electricians.

It was a sea of orange when Hastings Deering chief ­operating officer Mark Scott welcomed the cohort at ­induction where they got to rub shoulders with senior management.

"We are fully committed to their training," Mr Scott said.

"Across Australia there's a shortage of apprentices and we continue to ensure we are ­contributing to the talent ­pipeline with 158 trainees currently working in our operation.

"Add that to the 1500 we have trained over the past 15 years and you can see why we are proud of our training record.

"The high number of ­Mackay and Rockhampton apprentices is driven by having good applicants as well as the pipeline of work in the regions, particularly Central Queensland linked to the resource sector as well as supporting the construction side of the business.

"Undertaking Cat training is virtually a passport to working anywhere in the world where there is Cat machinery."