Rocky business steering young Capras players into apprenticeships

READY FOR WORK: Tony Downie from Gemini Accident Repair Centres (left) with Capras players Brandon Kemp and Ricky McHugh who are about to start an apprenticeship with Gemini Accident Repair Centres.
READY FOR WORK: Tony Downie from Gemini Accident Repair Centres (left) with Capras players Brandon Kemp and Ricky McHugh who are about to start an apprenticeship with Gemini Accident Repair Centres. Chris Ison ROK260917ccapras1

UP and coming Capras star Brandon Kemp was quick to volunteer for an apprenticeship when Gemini Accident Repair Centres came knocking.

The 17-year-old rugby league forward has been with the Capras for the past three years and is currently a member of their under 20's team.

At the start of the year, Gemini Accident Repair Centres centre manager Tony Downie made Brandon and fellow Capras player Ricky McHugh apprenticeship offers they couldn't refuse.

"They asked me when I started my academy training for the Capras if I was keen to do it and I put my hand up,” Brandon said.

"There was two apprenticeships offered, I'm doing the spray painting and Ricky is doing the panel beating.

"I'm hoping to learn how to paint and hopefully learn a couple of other skills,” Brandon said.

"I'm not really talkative, so hopefully I'll learn how to talk with people as well.”

Brandon said he planned to commence the four year apprenticeship in November after completing a business diploma and certificates in fitness at CQUniversity.

"I just hope to better myself for the future, it might open up other pathways or avenues,” Brandon said.

"I'm not too picky on where I want to be, I just want to be stable.”

He said Tony Downie, the man who offered the players the apprenticeships, was already involved with the Capras as an under 18's manager and club sponsor and he had made them feel very welcome.

Since he moved to Rockhampton a year ago from Sydney, Mr Downie has enjoyed the sea change and has immersed himself in the local rugby league community.

"I was a president of the Oaks Tigers down in Sydney, I was always affiliated with league and I knew if I could get in with somewhere local, it would help Gemini into the public eye,” Mr Downie said.

When Mr Downie was instructed to recruit some new apprentices, he immediately thought, "why not network with the Capras here?”

Mr Downie said the Capras were running an academy that Gemini sponsored this year and it was through that he spoke with the players to see who would be interested in an apprenticeship.

"Brandon and Ricky put their hands up instantly saying they were interested so they were the two guys we've taken on,” he said.

By offering these apprenticeships at his accident repair centre to these young footy players, he said it was a great opportunity for them to carve a career out for themselves in an industry with a skills shortage.

"There's just not enough trades people in this industry, all of our sites need a panel and paint apprentice,” he said.

"We'll probably look at doing it every 12 months if there's the work flow for it.

"In a nutshell, we are here to support locals by employing local guys, we want to keep it in town and more we can promote that, the better it will be.”

Topics:  capras gemini accident repair centres

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