BTS 2023, Careers & Training

Apprentices put to ultimate test in 2023 challenge

The always-popular 2023 HVIA National Apprentice Challenge has an exciting new format aimed at positioning it as the peak national apprentice competition.

Being held at the South Bank Piazza, during the Brisbane Truck Show, visitors can watch some of Australia’s best apprentices battle it out for the 2023 HVIA National Apprentice Challenge title.

The Brisbane Truck Show will run from Thursday May 18 to Sunday May 21, with the Apprentice Challenge taking place across the first two days of the event, when crowds are biggest, with heats staged on Thursday and Friday and, for the first time, the final taking place on Friday afternoon at South Bank Piazza.

For the first time, the Apprentice Challenge is invite-only, with six participating teams drawn from the best and brightest at key technical colleges throughout the country.

Invited participants enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show for the full four days.

And in 2023 skills will be tested on three Western Star trucks courtesy of new sponsor Penske Australia. And not just any trucks – they are the all-new 47X from Western Star’s new X-Series.

The winning team will be the first to successfully identify and repair all the faults, or the team that rectifies the most faults within the allowed timeframe.

Participants will compete in six heats held over a little more than an hour, where three teams will work against the clock to correct pre-programmed faults on their respective vehicles.

For visitors to the show the competition is a dynamic spectacle, with commentary explaining the apprentices’ moves and strategy, as their approach to addressing the challenge unfolds. Things can get tense as the teams battle against the clock.

Over an action-packed 90 minutes commencing 12:30pm on Friday, the final will be held between the first, second and third-placed teams.

The winner will receive a commemorative trophy, a tools package from sponsor Wurth, and an invitation to attend a Supercars event from sponsor NTI. 

The 2023 National Apprentice Challenge is being co-ordinated by former HVIA director Chris Musch, who knows first-hand how far an apprentice’s career can go.

“I started in this great industry as an apprentice when I was 15, just like our nominees,” he said. 

“It has given me opportunities to work in many different sectors of the industry, both here in Australia and overseas, from the shop floor and into different levels of management.”

Penske Australia’s Craig Lee says the Apprentice Challenge is a wonderful initiative to showcase the industry’s up-and-coming technicians.

Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia chief executive Todd Hacking says the support for the 2023 National Apprentice Challenge is testimony to the emerging talent coming into the heavy vehicle industry.

“The response has again been exceptional, with participants including second-, third- and fourth-year apprentices, Australia-wide,” Hacking said.

“These young people are at the beginning of a journey that will open doors to hugely rewarding career paths with Australian and international companies involved in the manufacture, distribution and support of trucks, trailers and their components,” he added, noting HVIA will host almost 2000 students from 50 schools for a full-day show experience.

It’s a unique opportunity to promote careers in the industry to the next generation of kids – and that’s what attracted Penske Australia’s support.

“One of the biggest challenges the whole industry is faced with is attraction of talent, whether that’s drivers, whether that’s operators, whether that’s painters, boilermakers or in this case, technicians,” said Craig Lee, Penske’s general manager of on highway product.

“One of the real benefits we see of supporting the Apprentice Challenge with supplying our new Western Star trucks is to give an opportunity to the up-and-coming technicians of the industry to show their worth in front of almost 2000 other school kids and in front of potential future employees and go head to head in a battle to see who can fix the faults we program into these trucks.

“What we love about it is that it is a great way to showcase our trucks, but more importantly it’s a great opportunity for these up-and-coming experts to showcase their skills.”

The apprentices

• Brayden Conaghan, Penske Australia (TAFE Qld Skills Tech)

• Lachlan Tate, Brown & Hurley (TAFE Qld Skills Tech)

• Sara Attard, Transport for NSW (TAFE NSW)

• Ben Seyffer, Nowra Truck & Trailer Repairs (TAFE NSW)

• Nathan Kaker, Penske Power Systems (Central Regional TAFE WA)

• Caleb Todd, Cummins South Pacific (Central Regional TAFE WA)

• Jacob Zurzolo, MTAWA (SM TAFE WA)

• Blade Elzerm, Major Motors Isuzu (SM TAFE WA)

• Paris Maw, CMV Truck & Bus Wodonga (Kangan TAFE VIC)

• Jackson Marriott, Peninsula Diesel (Kangan TAFE VIC)

• Kyle Guy, Followmont Transport (Busy at Work QLD)

• Ryan Robinson, Followmont Transport (Busy at Work QLD)

Key event times

• Heat 1: Thursday May 18, 8am-9.15am

• Heat 2: Thursday May 18, 10.15am-11.30am

• Heat 3: Thursday May 18, 12.30pm-1.45pm

• Heat 4: Thursday May 18, 2.15pm-3.30pm

• Heat 5: Friday May 19, 8am-9.15am

• Heat 6: Friday May 19, 10.15am-11.30am

• Final: Friday May 19, 12.30pm-2.00pm

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