Highlight: Jacob Cooke-Harrison

After leaving school in year 10 and unsure how to move his life forward, Jacob was offered work experience and then a four year apprenticeship through Skillinvest as an apprentice painter and then went on to complete a certificate III in painting and decorating to begin his own business in April 2016.

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Through a four-year apprenticeship as a painter, indigenous Horsham man Jacob Cooke-Harrison has changed the trajectory of his life. The Wotjobaluk man says completing an apprenticeship was challenging but it has improved his life. “I was the first one in my family to get a full-time job.  Having a full-time job meant I had ongoing work and money.”

After leaving school in year 10, Cooke-Harrison was lost and unsure how to move his life forward. “I was at a crossroads and hanging out with the wrong people. I moved out of home and in with my girlfriend.” Fortunately, his partner’s sister and brother-in-law had a painting business and  hey offered him work experience and then an apprenticeship through Skillinvest. The time adrift after leaving school had sapped his confidence but his boss got him painting straight away. “I thought I was pretty good at it and I enjoyed it.”

He later shifted to Horsham painter and decorator Matt Cross, with his apprenticeship overseen by the Murray Mallee Training Company Ltd, whose core business is the employment, training and monitoring of apprentices across Victoria’s north-west. MMTC’s trainer visited Cooke-Harrison at work each six weeks to check his workbooks and to make sure he was on the right track. He has now completed his apprenticeship, with a Certificate III in Painting and Decorating and began his own business in April.

The newly qualified painter says, so far, he’s found there’s plenty of work around Horsham, especially in the new house market. “When people build a new house, they want to move in when it’s finished – not move in and have to paint it themselves. So that means lots of work for qualified painters and decorators as there are always new houses being built.”