Joshua West always knew he wanted to get into a trade, but he wasn’t sure which one. In the end, he decided to become a CNC machinist and never looked back.

Joshua West was always practical-minded and knew he would do a trade after high school.

When a friend recommended he become a mechanical tradesperson, he thought he would give it a go.

Joshua spent six months working as a casual, then took on an apprenticeship with Australian Precision Technologies, an advanced manufacturing facility in Berwick specialising in producing precision components, instruments and assemblies using the latest CNC technology.

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control – it’s the automated control of machining tools by means of a computer.

As a CNC machinist, Josh programs jobs on a software program, then the machine cuts out the metal. He works mostly with aluminium, as well as steel and brass occasionally.

“I really enjoy it,” says Joshua. “It’s something different every day. It’s challenging work and I work with really good people at a great company. There have been heaps of cool jobs, but a highlight was working on aerospace parts for the defence force for the defence force.”

During his apprenticeship, Joshua completed a Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade through Chisholm.

He would spend four days at work gaining real-world experience, then one day on campus.

Joshua says he found it useful combining theoretical study with practical hands-on experience.

“At work, it’s all practical, so the theory side of it at TAFE really helped cement what you’re doing at work,” he says. “It definitely did give me a lot more confidence to learn the theory at TAFE, then come to work and implement it.”

Joshua made some good mates through Chisholm, some of whom he still goes fishing with.

“One of the main things I liked at Chisholm was becoming friends with the other guys who are in the same job as you,” he says. “The teachers were also supportive and you could always email them after hours if you had any questions.”

Joshua proved to be an outstanding apprentice. He was even nominated as Apprentice of the Year at the 2022 Chisholm Education Awards.

“Getting through my apprenticeship and completing it was probably my biggest achievement,” he says. “Developing my skills over the three to four years and seeing the results when you make your own path was an amazing feeling.”

Joshua encouraged other aspiring tradies to get some work experience under their belt before diving in.

“I started out doing work experience as a casual, found out as much about the trade as I could and then went from there,” he says. “I wanted to be 100% certain before I committed to the four years. You have to really enjoy this trade and be all in before you commit to it.”