The tradies earning more than doctors

THEY might not be wearing flash clothes, but some Aussies are earning huge dollars – and you don’t have to go to uni for years.

TO EARN big dollars these days you don’t have to spend years at uni.

Tradies are pulling in huge amounts of cash, but the riches aren’t spread evenly among them.

Not only do they have to work hard, they have to be smart about building their business.

When Adrian Fadini started his plumbing business 25 years ago, he was full of youthful vigour and enthusiasm. ‘Plumber to the Rescue’ had plenty of clients, but Fadini was admittedly “clueless” about what rates he should be charging.

As an apprentice, his boss had been charging $90 an hour, so Fadini charged $80 an hour.

But he admits “there was no logic behind that rate.

“I think 99 per cent of tradies doing an apprenticeship for a boss are in the same position I was. They’ve never worked out what their fixed costs are, they’ve never worked what their labour rates are for their tradespeople and inherently the sums are stuffed up from day one,” Mr Fadini told

Adrian Fadini said he had no clue what to charge for his work when he first started as a plumber.

Adrian Fadini said he had no clue what to charge for his work when he first started as a plumber.Source:Supplied

“No matter how hard you work, you dig yourself into a hole where your tax isn’t paid, debts aren’t paid and all of a sudden you don’t have enough money to pay anyone and your world comes crashing down.”

Mr Fadini’s world did come crashing down. At the time his wife was pregnant, and he was absolutely devastated when he had to sell the family home just to pay his debts.

He saw some business coaches, but realised they knew nothing about trades. So he did the research himself, talking to other successful tradies.

Mr Fadini started over, and now he’s on a mission to ensure tradies steer clear of financial and family hardship, and become more business savvy than ever.

“Six years after I sold my house I was able to sell my business to one of my biggest competitors who has now rebranded to my brand, Plumber to the Rescue. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through.”

MORE: They have starting salaries of $140k, so why aren’t there more tradies?

MORE: The highest paid trades. Removalists are at the top of the list.

Mr Fadini’s latest venture with fellow tradie Matt Jones is Tradiematepro — a digital toolbox that gives tradies the support and resources they need.

“The first thing we do with a client is pull out a profit maximiser worksheet and we start to work out the basics; your expenses, your overheads, what you need to be charging,” Mr Fadini said.

Matt Jones is no longer on the tools himself, instead helps other tradies make the most of their businesses.

Matt Jones is no longer on the tools himself, instead helps other tradies make the most of their businesses.Source:Supplied

“If they say, ‘My clients won’t pay that, it’s too high,’ I tell them they need to work out what their niche is — you can’t be just an average plumber if you’re going to charge 30 per cent higher.”


It sounds like something a successful sales person would attend: a conference in the Maldives to a learn a little more about their business.

But this is exactly where a group of tradies headed to lately — tradies who want to run a successful business.

“Most tradies hate school so why would you have lessons in a classroom? We’re outdoor guys, we love the ocean and the great outdoors, and that’s also when children tend to learn the most — so there’s no reason tradies can’t go on a luxury trip just like other high flying business people do,” Mr Fadini said, after Tradiematepro organised the trip.

“I see ourselves as being pioneers for tradies, replacing the classroom with a boat in the Maldives.”

It wasn’t all work.

It wasn’t all work.Source:Supplied

PULLING IN THE CASH contacted the ABS to see if tradies really are earning more than doctors. And we were shocked to find that in many cases, they are.

When we asked the (very helpful) people at the ABS about how much the average Australian GP earns we were taken to the detailed depths of the site.

After navigating our way through a labyrinth of figures, the ABS led us to a chart with great details about the earnings of a variety of professions. The statistics show that an Aussie GP at the top of his/her game and working full time can earn as much as $156k.

Great money, no doubt. But it’s still less than a lot of tradies make.

A removalist, who does not need to spend seven or more years at uni, can earn $93 an hour. If he (in most cases it is a he) works an average 40 hour week, that’s $193k per year. Not bad for lifting boxes.

In most parts of Australia there’s a huge trade shortage, so they are in big demand. It’s not uncommon for starting salaries to be $140k. And more experienced and specialised tradespeople can charge more.

The recent ‘tradie rich list’ has removalists at the top of the game. But other tradies are also doing well. In second place were plumbers, earning $83.04 per hour, followed by electricians, handymen and carpenters.

Matt Jones started out as a plumber, but now spends his days building websites and marketing solutions for tradies. He helped coach the guys who took the Maldives trip.

“Everyone was taught about the importance of organisational chart structure, how to structure your business, and how to use tech to follow up on proposals. There’s a lot of money to be made as a tradie, but if you don’t have all the business tools in place from the beginning, you can get yourself into financial trouble without the right support,” Jones told

“These days there’s definitely a shift from people wanting to go to uni and get a degree, to learning a trade.

The myths about being a tradie and that you can’t make serious money are slowly being dispelled.”

The crew that travelled to the Maldives not only had a great time, they learned about how to make the best of their trade.

The crew that travelled to the Maldives not only had a great time, they learned about how to make the best of their trade.Source:Supplied

Cable locator Ben Minutoli is just one success story and he’s one of the most tech savvy tradies around; he even had a Youtube channel (and employs a video editor) to show people exactly what his job involves.

His office is paperless, everything is via phone and cloud computing. His staff are based in Geelong, but he has admin in Philippines, a ‘web guy’ in India and a video editor in Canada.

“I took over the business from my father, who couldn’t even turn a computer on, so we’ve come a long way. Today much of the success of tradies is thanks to the internet — we can all learn from each other how to build a successful business,” Minutoli said.

“I want up and coming tradies to know that you can make good money. In the past, tradies would try to keep everything secret and didn’t want to share their knowledge. These days you’re happy to help out your fellow tradie.”

Mr Minutoli urges other tradies to see the bigger picture and also get more involved on social media.

“Get on Instagram — I deal with a huge amount of clients on there. Jump on Facebook and Linkedin forums and learn from your peers, especially tradies from interstate and overseas — they’re not your competition and they want to help you succeed. If we all succeed it’s going to be a better industry for everyone.”

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Marks will matter in the workforce

Marks will matter in the workforce

As students across the state prepare to take their HSC, employers are preparing to recruit for 2019.

Students have been taking the HSC for over 50 years, meaning much of the current workforce has completed their Higher School Certificate. HSC results form the basis for many employers when considering new employees.

Maths and English remain the most important results employer’s looks at but technology and engineering units are a close second, particularly for businesses in IT and manufacturing. For many student the HSC won’t be the final exam they take either. It is common for employers and recruitment agencies ask candidates to take aptitude testing to assess their skills in work related sectors.

Nick Couper, general manager for HunterNet Group Training, says all candidates they interview are expected to complete aptitude testing regardless of what position their applying for.

“We ask all potential employees to take a short assessment of skills they’re going to need in the workplace,” Mr Couper said. “You can’t be an electrician if you don’t have excellent math skills, you can’t work in a business environment without basic comprehension skills.”

Mr Couper also advised students not to assume future employers won’t look at their HSC results.

“There’s a myth that your HSC scores don’t matter if you’re going to do a trade or go to TAFE, that’s not true at all. If your HSC is the highest level of education you have, you bet employers are going to ask to see your transcript.”

Mr Couper encouraged students to give it their “best go” during the HSC: “A bad HSC score is not the end of the world but isn’t is easier to get it right the first time?”

Setting goals

Making and getting the most out of study is important and it’s important to set goals. Students should ask themselves what they really hope to achieve.

Having a reason to stay motivated will make studying more purposeful.

Once students have formed their own personal idea of success, they should make it very specific. Know what marks you need, what university you would like to attend and what degree you would like to study.

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Fee-free apprenticeships

To help your business grow faster, the NSW Government is making apprenticeship training fee-free.

Our fee-free apprenticeship training brochure has more information.

From July 1 2018, any NSW business that takes on a new apprentice won’t have to pay a cent for the cost of their qualification training. The NSW Government will pay the up-to-$2000 qualification fee direct to the Smart and Skilled training provider.

This will save your business money and ensure you have the trained staff you need to thrive and grow.

When you’ve found the right apprentice, you can select from over 120 VET apprenticeship courses and over 88 Smart and Skilled providers, to deliver the right training for your needs.

More information here.

Building for the future

Apprenticeships are a great career pathway. They combine on-the-job training with classroom study to give you the skills and experience employers are looking for. Apprenticeships generally take around 3-4 years to complete, and apprentices earn a salary while they learn.

First-year plumbing apprentice Matthew Nagas knows firsthand the benefits of getting a trade through VET.

After more than 10 years working casually as a labourer, Casino-based Matthew Nagas jumped at the chance to do an apprenticeship through vocational education and training (VET).

“I’d been labouring since I was 16, but I knew I had to get something under my belt,” says the 31-year-old, who was first employed as a plumbing trades assistant by Laser Plumbing and Electrical Lismore in late 2016, then offered an apprenticeship in February 2018.

“In these smaller towns, it can be hard for younger people to try and find work. That’s why I laboured for most of my life – you get stuck in a routine,” he says. “Now I’m looking to the future.”

Matthew is now part of the Laser crew working on the Clarence Correctional Centre project – a John Holland-led project – and is in his first year of a Certificate III in Plumbing at TAFE NSW Coffs Harbour. “I’m enjoying it and learning heaps,” he says.

“Matthew is well on his way,” says Grant Smith, operations manager for Laser Plumbing. “He’s a good worker, as far as his commitment and passion go, and he’s only been rewarded for his hard work.”

Apprenticeships are a proven career pathway – according to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, 92% of VET graduates who do a trade occupation course are employed after training.

Opportunities for thousands of apprenticeships throughout the state are now also a reality with the NSW Government announcing 100,000 fee-free apprenticeships from 1 July 2018 and a commitment that 20 per cent of trade roles on all its future construction projects will be filled by apprentices.

The Clarence Correctional Centre project falls under the government’s Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program, which seeks to create greater opportunities in construction for local people including young people, women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

For Matthew, his partner and their 18-month-old son, the opportunity to live, train and work in the Northern Rivers region is one of many benefits. “When I get my trade, I could even try and start my own business,” says Matthew. “I could help my nephews and their friends. It’d be good to open their eyes to it.”

This story originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph.

Top students named at the 2018 NSW Training Awards – Hunter

Training Services NSW Executive Director David Collins has congratulated Toby Dorn of Bolwarra and Renee Keir of Eleebana on taking out top honours at the 2018 NSW Training Awards for the Hunter region held tonight in Newcastle.

Toby who studied Aeroskills Mechanical at TAFE NSW while working at Jetstar at Williamtown was named local Apprentice of the Year. Renee who trained at Australian Training and Consulting while working as a Customer Service Officer at Lake Macquarie Council was named Trainee of the Year.

“Toby and Renee have proven to be among the State’s best and brightest Vocational Education and Training (VET) students,” Mr Collins said.

“Toby has been a standout aeroskills mechanical apprentice with Jetstar and is on a brilliant aviation career path having already obtained a commercial pilot’s licence and an Advanced Diploma in Aviation.

“Renee has excelled across a range of council areas as a Customer Service Officer including reception where her supervisor reports that she has a fantastic attitude to her work and customers.

“While Toby and Renee are exceptional VET talents, the quality of all finalists and winners at the Hunter Awards has provided a showcase of our world class VET sector and I congratulate them all,” Mr Collins said.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills John Barilaro said regional winners would compete at the NSW Training Awards state finals in September.

“The Training Awards pay tribute to our apprentices, students, trainees, educators and training providers from all over the state and show how VET is a great pathway for a rewarding career,” Mr Barilaro said.

“They provide a fantastic platform for us to celebrate the achievements of all those involved in the success of our Smart & Skilled VET system which provides students in NSW with high quality and affordable training.

“VET offers a strong alternative to university with graduates getting into work sooner, getting paid more on graduation, and getting training in occupations predicted to have the greatest new job growth over the next five years.”

For more information on VET in NSW:
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Rewarding effort and training

Successful Partnership: Sean “Zack” Bennett and Liam Ryan have proved to be a great team. Photo: Supplied.
Successful Partnership: Sean “Zack” Bennett and Liam Ryan have proved to be a great team. Photo: Supplied.

Zack’s Automotive, also known as Muswellbrook Auto Services, has been a part of the landscape for the past two decades.

Starting off in a simple shed the business has continued to grow, both physically and in terms of it’s clients and staff, to the reputable business that it is today. Celebrating 20 years in 2018, Zack’s takes great pride in offering their clients the very best in car servicing and automotive repairs.

There were more calls for celebration recently when fourth year apprentice, Liam Ryan, won the “Apprentice of the Year 2018 for Automotive Mechanical Technology” with his Light Vehicle Certificate Three.

Business owner Sean Bennett, better known as Zack, said he was extremely proud of Liam and his efforts. “Liam’s professional approach, quality assurance and efficiency, highlighted by his understanding of customer care, are all qualities you need to be successful in our industry,” he said.

Great Achievement: Liam Ryan from Zack’s Automotive was named Apprentice of the Year at this year’s HRATA Awards. Photo: Supplied.
Great Achievement: Liam Ryan from Zack’s Automotive was named Apprentice of the Year at this year’s HRATA Awards. Photo: Supplied.

Throughout school Liam studied the trade subjects offered in his area and also undertook work placements with Zack’s Automotive which eventually led to his apprenticeship. Liam also helped design a program for a special needs student on work experience, with the project so successful the student is now a part time employee at Zack’s Automotive.

Zack said that outstanding results in Liam’s trade qualifications and a drive to achieve his career goals, has earn Liam the respect of his fellow employees, teachers and other apprentices, and sets him up for a very successful career in light vehicle mechanics.

Liam was honoured by the award and said that he had learnt so much more than just how to fix cars. Zack said part of their training included teaching apprentices to step up and take on more responsibilities and duties than required, which allows apprentices to up-skill in a range of areas.

Winner are grinners: Apprentice of the Year, Liam Ryan, with his proud parents, Michael and Moya, at the recent HRATA Awards. Photo: Supplied.
Winner are grinners: Apprentice of the Year, Liam Ryan, with his proud parents, Michael and Moya, at the recent HRATA Awards. Photo: Supplied.

Zack’s Automotive is proving to be a workplace where apprentices thrive. They have trained three previous HRATA winners in this category, a sign of the level of dedication and prosperous training that Zack and his team offer.

When asked who he would like to thank for the supporting himself and Liam throughout the apprenticeship, Zack said there as a long list of people involved including NSW Training Awards and Training Services, Masters Builders Apprentices, HunterNet Group Training and HRATA Event Manager, Merran Wiggins.

Of special mention he said were Liam’s parents Michael and Moya Ryan, who were great to communicate with and support Liam throughout his training, and Keiren Kelly from Muswellbrook TAFE who Zack said goes above and beyond, and has always been a great supporter.

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Sky’s the limit for youth seeking aerospace careers

Australia’s first astronaut and NSW space advocate Paul Scully-Power AM said the Aerospace Futures Conference being held in Canberra from 16-19 July is an excellent opportunity for NSW graduates and postgraduates to meet potential employers in the burgeoning aerospace industry.

“This Aerospace Futures conference will build on a re-energised space ecosystem in Australia and presents an opportunity for young professionals to explore the prospects for a future career,” Mr Scully-Power said.

“In this regard, NSW is already the leader as the home to more than 40 per cent of Australia’s space businesses.”

Hosted by the Australian Youth Aerospace Association and sponsored by the NSW Department of Industry, the event will attract nearly 850 industry and government officials, academics and students with speakers to include Mr Scully-Power.

“One in every three space industry jobs in Australia are already based in NSW and I encourage NSW graduates to seriously consider this fantastic opportunity,” he said.

Conference chair Ed Muthiah said 2018 is a milestone for the Australian air and space industries.

“From the beginnings of a fifth generation air force to the kindling of a long-awaited joint space effort, there’s a lot to be celebrated.

“Aerospace Futures is a one-of-a-kind event that exposes Australian youth to the accomplishments of current industry, government and academic leaders, in the hope that they will follow suit,” Mr Muthiah said.

NSW Defence Advocate Air Marshal John Harvey AM (Retd) said the future of the aerospace industry in NSW was bright with plans to develop a world class aerospace and defence industries precinct adjacent to the Western Sydney Airport.

“Those considering a future career in these industries should be in no doubt that NSW is the place to be.”

The NSW Department of Industry will host a finale dinner reception on 19th July featuring presentations outlining recent aerospace developments within NSW.

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Report shows pathways to success in brave new world

Schools will need to open their doors to stronger relationships with employers and workplaces if students are to thrive in a future world rich with artificial intelligence and disruptive technologies.

The finding is contained in a report, ‘Preparing for the best and worst of times’, commissioned by the NSW Department of Education to examine the skills Australia’s children will need as AI and other technologies “transform Australia’s economy, the workplace and the community”.

“This report reflects the NSW Department of Education’s commitment to supporting informed contributions to the national conversation about how education can better prepare young people for the challenges of life and work post-school,” Department of Education Secretary Mark Scott said.

“We know that a child starting kindergarten last year will spend much of their working lives in the second half of the 21st century.

“In a world rich with artificial intelligence this report helps us answer the question of how schools can help these students to not just survive – but to thrive in this rapidly changing environment.”

The study, led by Professor John Buchanan, of the University of Sydney’s Business School, brought together experts from a range of faculties including business, engineering, health and humanities.

Professor Buchanan said while AI had already been used as an excuse to cut jobs and had accentuated some forms of inequality, “technological change was usually for the good, depending on how it was handled”.

“There is no need to panic about artificial intelligence, we have survived big changes in the past and we can survive them again but we do need think carefully about the implications of AI and be thoughtful and disciplined about how we respond,” Professor Buchanan said.

One of the report’s key findings is that the academic and vocational arms of education need to work closer together and that employers need to be “part of the deal”.

Professor Buchanan said while teachers will remain the “anchor of coherence in the system”, workplaces could be powerful sites for learning.

“We should see the role of employers in education as a public good. We need new education settlements where employers are part of the deal,” he said.

The report points out that greater employer engagement with schools would provide students with a “better understanding of how their knowledge can be applied to solving real-world problems”.

For example biology students in schools could be linked to research institutions, while economic students might develop relationships with public policy units.

Similarly vocational subjects should not be “dumbed down” but instead students in these areas needed deeper expert and underpinning knowledge from more relevant subjects and employers.

“When you get to high school there is a need to really think through the curriculum,” Professor Buchanan said. “We note that on the academic side, there has been too much of a preoccupation with ATAR and what we call the competitive academic curriculum and on the vocational education side there has been too much of a willingness to go down market. To provide short run skills relevant to employers in the district.”

The report says the current focus on students acquiring the generic so-called 21st century skills in isolation from discipline knowledge is “unhelpful”.

“In our view, if you want to solve problems, you become skilled in a specific area of interest and then learn to solve problems in your area,” Professor Buchanan said.

“Someone with really good problem-solving skills who works in a childcare centre is going to be no good on an oil rig when a fire breaks out. Equally, a mining engineer who can handle a fire on an oil rig would have a nightmare trying to manage a child care centre.

“We have got to have a dynamic relationship between the specific and the general. In Switzerland and Germany, they are still training clockmakers and watchmakers and they gain transferable analytical and dextrous capacities they can take into medical device or tool making.”

While counselling against generic skills training, the report strongly recommends that students, particularly those in primary education, be given a strong desire to learn.

“We must nurture curiosity, give people the capacity to concentrate and the ability to follow an idea through over time,” Professor Buchanan said.

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