Size has never been an issue for Shaun O’Bryan, who started his Metal Fabrication (Engineering) apprenticeship with Ai Group’s Apprentice and Trainee Centre (ATC) today. 

His can-do attitude means it is not an issue for his host company, motor body builders JG Schulz, either. 

Mr O’Bryan, who is small-statured, has already clocked up 10 years in the metal industry and decided to pursue an apprenticeship to formalise his experience. 

“I always wanted to do it because I wanted to be a quality, qualified tradesman,” the 29-year-old said. 

“I did a lot of welding during the past two years and a lot of metal work, but I just don’t have the qualifications or certificates to back that up. 

“The apprenticeship will make me a qualified tradesman.” 

Ben Schulz, General Manager of Adelaide-based JG Schulz, said he was looking forward to Mr O’Bryan joining the team. 

“What appealed to us was that he already had experience in welding and being a bit older, had that maturity to him,” Mr Schulz, pictured with Mr O’Bryan, said. 

“We’re confident we can make it work because he’s had to do it his whole life. 

“We were of the opinion that if he was confident, willing to give it a good crack and 100% committed, who are we to say no? 

“He’ll know his way around certain things and ways he can adapt and do things.  

“I said to him in the interview: ‘You know more about what you can do than we do. You're going to have to find ways to make it work.’"

Among Mr O’Bryan’s first-day tasks will be establishing a workstation to suit himself. 

“He’s going to have to determine what sort of tools he needs to be able to do the job appropriately,” Mr Schulz said. 

“For instance, he’s got to work out what height of stool he wants to work on, those sorts of things.” 

Mr O’Bryan praised ATC Employment & Training Consultant Gary Simpson for arranging the interview with JG Schulz and “handling everything”.  

“Gary’s done everything so far,” he said. 

“I haven’t had to worry about anything. There’s no stress.” 

Mr Simpson said there was no reason Mr O’Bryan would not succeed. 

“He’s not disabled,” Mr Simpson said. 

“He’s been a working man all his life. He can weld very well but now he wants to be a ‘proper tradesman’ as he puts it, and he wants to learn how to fabricate, how to actually make things. 

“I did a bit of research into it, thinking ‘are there going to be any health implications for him? Will it create any challenges in that regard, coming from a safety point of view?’ 

“The answer was no. It’s just that he’s a person of short stature. He’s the same as everybody else but just a bit smaller. It gave me no reason to treat him any way other than just like everyone else.” 

Mr O’Bryan said he was looking forward to embarking on a path of formal learning. 

“That’s why I want to do an apprenticeship, because I want to go back to basics and start from square one and learn,” he said. 

“I want to take on board everything a tradesman tells me and to be the best tradesman I can. 

“I’m stoked. I can’t wait to start.” 

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is the Senior Content Writer at Ai Group. She is a former journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.