Charmaine prepares for offshore adventure

Charmaine Thorogood-Hawkins had no idea where her dual apprenticeship would take her. It turns out the next stop is the Bass Strait, and she couldn’t be more excited.

Do you like the idea of doing FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) work?

Does working on an oil rig appeal to you?

For Charmaine Thorogood-Hawkins, being offered a job as an electrical instrumentation technician on an oil rig in the Bass Strait fresh out of completing her dual apprenticeship was a dream come true.

“I’m definitely nervous,” says Charmaine.

“After being an apprentice for five years, it’s scary to step out of your comfort zone, but I’m also really excited. It’s going to be a cool journey.”

Wind back the clock a few years and like many young people, Charmaine was unsure about which career path to take in high school.

She enjoyed science and maths and wanted to do something practical, so she decided to try an electrical pre-apprenticeship through Chisholm. It proved to be the right fit.

After high school, it took some time for Charmaine to find someone to take her on as an apprentice.

But her perseverance paid off and she was eventually signed up for a dual trade apprenticeship with WPC Group, which services the ESSO oil and gas refineries.

She completed the Certificate III in Electrotechnology apprenticeship with Chisholm, as well as a Certificate III in Instrumentation and Control apprenticeship through Gippsland TAFE.

During her time at Chisholm, Charmaine proved to be a leader in class, earning the respect of both her peers and teachers.

She was nominated for Apprentice of the Year at the 2023 Chisholm Education Awards.

Charmaine was also one of 23 apprentices from around Australia to be selected for Today’s Skills: Tomorrow’s Leaders, a government-run intensive professional development program in Canberra in 2022.

Not only that – just months out from finishing up her dual apprenticeship, Charmaine was offered the job on the oil rig.

“Prior to starting my electrical apprenticeship, I didn’t really know about the oil and gas sector, but once I started working within the industry, it was a massive goal of mine to be offshore and work in some kind of FIFO position,” says Charmaine.

“I wanted to experience that different lifestyle of living on an oil rig.”

Charmaine will be working 12-hour days, two weeks on, then have two weeks off.

Being such a dangerous industry, there will be a fair amount of training involved before she gets started.

Charmaine expects the work will be challenging, but incredibly rewarding.

“There are a few different oil rigs out there and some are in a decommissioning phase. I’ll be helping to bring everything offline, pulling everything out and making it all redundant as the rig is no longer being used.

“Otherwise, I’ll be on an operating platform, which will involve maintenance of either electrical gear or instrumentation (which can include pumps and pressure and temperature gauges).”