I did my Phase 2 in Bishopstown in Cork and then both Phase 4 and Phase 6 in DIT Bolton St, obtaining a merit in refrigeration and air conditioning in 2012. During this time I was lucky enough to compete in the National Skills competition and go on to represent Ireland in the Worldskills Competition in London in 2011, obtaining a medallion of excellence.
Leaving a full time job one month after I was qualified, and a week before my 23rd birthday, I was nervous, but I knew I had to experience Australia for myself. I couldn’t bear to have that “what If” hanging over me so I took the risk. Thankfully, it is one I definitely do not regret.
When I came over initially it was difficult – there are all types of challenges like socialising, obtaining licences and “safe cards” to work. I found Jason Green of Skill Shortage Solutions a great help in obtaining licences for work and visas, as well as providing information. Also, there are a few great websites like Irish around Perth, Irish around Oz and Irish Families around Perth. These have been a great help to many Irish people and make it much easier for the transition.
After just two weeks and having applied for around six jobs, I fortunately got two offers. I am still in the one I accepted on a 457 visa with Morgan Mechanical Services, doing about 95%installations of Daikin air cons, cold rooms and evaporative bionaire systems. Most of our work has been for government jobs installing ac in schools across WA. The standard of the jobs has to be very high quality. I have been put in charge of the refrigeration and air con on many jobs, earning the role of “Refrigeration Project Supervisor”.
Our company has 10 skilled Irish workers, something that is not unusual for companies throughout Western Australia. I have noticed one major common factor across all trades since working here – we are very much sought after as skilled workers in our chosen professions, and a lot of Irish quickly rise to the top positions. This is a testament to FÁS, and indeed Irish people and their work ethic.
Working in the heat is a big factor. Sun cream and water are essential, but personally I would rather 30º than 0º any day. I’m currently working on a project with 16 VRVs doing 55-70 hours a week with the option of more if I want. Job opportunity and career progression are massive factors for me here. I feel if you work hard you will get rewards and the sky is the limit.
The work is definitely easier here. You don’t work as hard or as fast as you would in Ireland and on numerous occasions myself and a few others have been told to slow our work down and not to work ourselves out of a job. That said, when push comes to shove we always get the job done on, or before, the deadline.
When I’m not in work the option to go to the beach, go for a walk or just sit outside and socialise with friends is at my fingertips. The weather here is such a major plus factor because of the sun. Not really knowing how long I will stay, I like to get outside and enjoy it as much as possible. I play football (soccer) with a local team which gives me a break from thinking about work 24/7 … it is definitely a lot easier to live a healthy lifestyle in Perth.
That said I, and about 90% of the Irish people like myself I come across, still feel we will eventually return to Ireland to settle – is i mbaile a bhfuil an croi.