How I went from tradie to TAFE teacher

How I went from tradie to TAFE teacher

Three Chisholm trades trainers have shared how they made the move from working in the field to sharing their skills and knowledge as TAFE teachers.


There are many reasons why tradies decide to become teachers.

Some are searching for a better work-life balance, while others might be looking for a new challenge or seeking a chance to educate the next generation of workers in their trade.

Three Chisholm trade educators have shared how they became TAFE teachers.

Brenton Rundle – Plumbing

Chisholm educator Brenton RundleTraining apprentices and mentoring staff on worksites was one of Brenton’s favourite jobs when he worked as a plumber, running his own business and subcontracting.

It was his father in-law, who was a plumbing teacher, who told Brenton he’d make a great plumbing teacher.

Brenton studied the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and now works as a plumbing teacher at Chisholm. He says it was “the best career move” he has ever made.

“The thing I enjoy most about working as a trade teacher is working with the apprentices,” Brenton says. “We have a great time learning from each other and I find they are just younger versions of myself, wanting to learn new things and be successful in their trade.”

Brenton says he also appreciates the friendships he’s created at work and being able to stay connected to the plumbing industry.

And he says there are perks, such as attending industry conferences and working in a job with Monday to Friday work hours, annual leave and superannuation. “As most plumbers know, these aren’t a given when you’re working for yourself!”

Bec Newman – Electrical

Chisholm educator Bec NewmanAt age 17 Bec started an apprenticeship with her family’s electrical business and she hasn’t looked back.

At the time there were no other women at trade school or at worksites, and Bec says she’s thankful her Dad supported her career choice. “As a female on a job site 20 years ago, there was an element of having to prove yourself. It wasn’t a great culture for females in trades at that time,” Bec says. “Only once other tradies recognised that I was there to do a job just like they were, that I was very capable, that’s when I was accepted as just another tradesperson on the job site.”

Having worked as a qualified electrician for many years, Bec jumped at the chance to become a TAFE teacher. The mum of three was looking for job security and a better work-life balance.

Bec says her favourite aspects of the job are teaching apprentices, sharing her industry knowledge and being able to retain links to the electrical industry.

Of course, she also enjoys seeing more women coming through the workshop as electrical apprentices.

“It’s so good to see females taking up trade apprenticeships, they are just as capable as anyone else to work in a trade,” Bec says.

Adam Laxton – Carpentry

Chisholm educator Adam LaxtonAfter 25 years working as a qualified carpenter in the building industry, Adam was tired of chasing builders and clients for payments.

With a young family, he was also looking for a better work-life balance.

A friend suggested Adam would make a great carpentry teacher. “I made a few calls and was lucky enough to get an opportunity at Chisholm,” Adam says.

At first he says teaching was a challenge. “I know my trade but I needed to learn how to teach, how to use IT systems to suit my teaching and understand that it took effort, it just doesn’t happen, you have to learn new skills,” Adam explains. “Chisholm taught me to become a trade teacher. I got support throughout the Certificate IV Training and Assessment course, and when I first started teaching the apprentices in the workshops.”

Now working as the manager of Chisholm’s building courses, Adam says his favourite part of the job is seeing his students learn and succeed. “I love passing on new skills and ideas to future tradies,” he says. “It’s great watching the students develop and grow their own skills and techniques – the best is when you see them achieve something they never thought they could or would get to do, that light bulb moment.”