When Kurt Hoareau was trying to decide on a career, he wanted to do something that would challenge him. Something hands-on. Something exciting.

He found all that and more in boilermaking.

Wind back the clock a decade to when Kurt was at high school, and like many young people, he was unsure about which direction to take.

Kurt knew he wanted to do a trade, and in year 12 he did VCAL with a focus on plumbing, but soon realised it was not for him.

After school, Kurt worked in the construction industry, starting with building labouring then eventually moving into glass balustrading and pool fence installation.

“It was very basic work and I eventually grew bored of it,” Kurt says. “I began doing some research, and that’s when I found boilermaking.

“I visited a few factories. My brother’s also a boilermaker and studied at Chisholm, so I also spoke to him about it and decided to give it a try.”

In August 2018, Kurt got a job at BendTech, a Clayton South factory, doing boilermaking and metal fabrication. He fell in love with the industry straight away.

In 2019, aged 24, he began his Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade at Chisholm.

Kurt excelled at TAFE and was nominated as Apprentice of the Year at the 2021 Chisholm Education awards. He displayed an intense hunger to learn and to apply his knowledge on the job, even taking on extra night-time learning to improve his welding techniques.

Kurt says he loved his time at Chisholm.

“The theory and the hands-on side were equally well done,” Kurt says. “You meet people in every branch of the industry and the teachers went above and beyond.

“I was studying one day a week and working the other four, so I was able to use the skills I learnt at Chisholm every day on the job.”

Nowadays if Kurt’s not fabricating in the workshop, he’s out and about on-site working as a team leader installing jobs.

Kurt’s work is varied and there’s a lot of problem-solving involved, but he loves the challenge.

“One of the most interesting jobs I’ve worked on was installing a steel structural staircase in a skyscraper on Flinders Lane – between levels 4 and 5,” Kurt says.

“We had to cut everything down to 2.5m so that it could fit in a lift, and then reweld it and refabricate the whole thing on site and assemble the staircase.

“There was a lot of thinking and pressure. The thing with a staircase is there’s very little tolerance (millimetres), so you have to be spot on with everything. It was a credit to my managers and supervisors for doing such a great job with that.”

BendTech engineering manager Gabriel Ionescu says they could not be happier with Kurt’s performance.

“From the beginning he showed a keen interest in all aspects of steel fabrication and engineering,” Gabriel says. “His progress was fast and steady and he quickly became one of the key members or our team. He’s always positive, inquisitive, proactive and not afraid of any challenges. Being a very knowledgeable and pleasant person, currently he is one of the most versatile steel fabricators/boilermakers in the company.”

Kurt’s advice to other young people or mature-aged students thinking about a career in boilermaking was to ‘give it a shot’.

“It’s a very vast industry,” Kurt says. “There are many branches you can go through. It’s limitless and really interesting. And it certainly keeps your brain going.”