LOCAL jobs have been created for apprentices in North Queensland with Wilmar Sugar's new intake of future tradies.
Thirty-five apprentices are kick-starting their careers on their home turf with the bulk coming from the regions where Wilmar’s eight mills are based.
The 2018 first-year apprentice intake is significantly higher than the past two years, with demand for electricians driving the increase.
Eighteen of the apprentices have started work at Pioneer Mill’s specialised workshop, where they will learn fabrication techniques before they are sent to the mills.
Training Superintendent Scott Young said Wilmar was committed to youth training and employment and was proud to offer opportunities in the regions.
“We’re very proud of our track-record of providing trade training opportunities for young people in the regions where we operate our mills,” Mr Young said.
“It’s about giving back to and building the community. We live here, work here and employ local people.”
The 18 first-year apprentices at Pioneer Mill hail from the Burdekin area, with one each from Townsville, Woodstock and Bowen.
“We lifted our apprenticeship intake this year in response to a business need for more electrical tradespeople, which saw us employ an additional five electrical apprentices,” Mr Young said.
“We’ve also signed on new boilermaking, fitting and turning and diesel fitting apprentices.”
Workplace coordinator Alan Chatfield said the centralised workshop, which would operate for its second year, was a great place for apprentices to ply their trade.
”They used to go to the mills, but now we have a specialised workshop where we do all fabricating for all the mills,” Mr Chatfield said.
Home Hill resident and first year apprentice Samuel Gibson, 17 said he was pleased to be staying local to work in the sugar cane industry.
“I’ve grown up on a cane farm all my life and always loved sugar,” Samuel said.
“It’s just a small cane farm at Osborne and I’ve been around it my whole life.
“It’s very important, for all of us locals to stay here and work together to keep it going.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere, so this is close to home.
”I definitely see my future in the sugar cane industry.”
Fellow apprentice Daniel Roberts, also of Home Hill, said it was great to have career opportunities on his doorstep.
“It’s great training and a great work environment,” the 17-year-old said.
“It will open a lot of doorways.
“It’s saved me having to go away and I’ve always been surrounded by sugarcane.”