Ryan finds his superpower as a man of steel

Ryan Melmeth decided to have a career change in his mid-20s. He found the experience of being a mature-aged student at Chisholm rewarding on many levels.

The days of having a job for life are increasingly becoming a thing of the past.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1.3 million people, or 9.5% of employed Australians, changed jobs in the year to February 2022. That’s the highest annual job mobility rate since 2012.

Research on behalf of SEEK found the main reasons for a career change were because people wanted to:

  • earn more (17%)
  • do something more fulfilling (16%)
  • pursue their passion (13%).

For Ryan Melmeth, it was a combination of factors that led him to transition from chef to boilermaker at the age of 25.

“I worked as a chef for a couple of years, but it wasn’t really working out,” says Ryan.

“It’s pretty difficult to maintain a social life and a hard industry to have work-life balance in. I was looking at what else I could do and thought perhaps I could work with steel.”

Ryan enrolled in Chisholm’s Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade and began an apprenticeship.

As a mature-aged student, Ryan loved the learning experience at Chisholm.

“The teachers were really approachable if I had issues or if I saw someone else struggling,” he says. “They were pretty quick to jump in and help in whatever way they could.”

Ryan completed his apprenticeship through three different employers.

He says one of the things he appreciated about Chisholm was being able to develop a broad range of skills – not all of which were taught on the job.

“Say you want to learn how to TIG weld or use a brake press and they don’t do those things in your workplace,” says Ryan. “Chisholm has the facilities to let you have a go at those processes. The teachers can give you a rundown on how to do things safely and how to produce a quality product that’s industry accepted.”

Ryan proved to be a standout student at Chisholm, showing excellent leadership skills in the classroom. He was nominated as Apprentice of the Year at the 2023 Chisholm Education Awards.

Nowadays, he loves his job with Wilson Transformer, a leading manufacturer of power and distribution transformer solutions.

“I really like working with my hands in particular,” says Ryan. “The work culture is also a better fit for me than cookery. I like the idea that I’m contributing to the community and to infrastructure, and doing something that feels worthwhile.”

On a typical day, Ryan starts work at around 6am. There’s a toolbox meeting, where any safety issues are raised and deadlines are discussed. Then it’s straight to work.

Tasks are varied, from hands-on welding, to working on individual assemblies or managing quality control.

“We are making one product, but there’s variation in the product and variation in the jobs as well, which keeps things interesting,” says Ryan. “The company is also very eco-conscious. I find it very exciting.”