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Maritime students sailing into dream careers

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Loren Lazarevic has dreamed of joining the Australian Navy since he was six years old. 

Now aged 22, the Waratah resident is a step closer to a career on the sea after becoming one of Australia’s newest deckhands. 

Last month he was one of 10 Indigenous maritime students testing their new skills on the waters of Sydney Harbour. 

The sail was thanks to a unique TAFE NSW maritime program developed in partnership with Prince’s Trust Australia and the Sea Heritage Foundation. 

The Get Into Maritime program is offering students opportunities to develop hands-on, job-ready skills within a pathway to jobs and further study. 

The course is aimed at building a pipeline of future maritime workers – an industry listed one of the oldest in the country, with nearly half of employees aged 45 years or older. 

Job adverts for Marine Transport Professionals have tripled since the COVID peak, and the industry is crying out for more skilled workers. 

The Get Into Maritime program provides a holistic immersive approach to Indigenous education and employment to create social and economic change for Indigenous Australians in the maritime industry. 

It’s a culmination of three years of work between the Sea Heritage Foundation, the TAFE NSW Indigenous Engagement team and Prince’s Trust Australia. 

For Loren, it offers the skills and confidence to apply for next year’s intake and the qualification to work on a near coastal vessel as a deckhand across the country. 

“Ever since I stepped foot on HMAS Newcastle on a tour when I was a boy, I’ve loved all things maritime,” he said. 

“The experiences I’ve had through Get Into Maritime have given me a much better understanding of the roles of the crew and helped me develop life-saving skills like sea survival, firefighting and CPR. 

“Before I started the program, I had people tell me that they didn’t think I could finish it or even do it at all – but I’ve been able to prove them wrong.  

“Now I’m eager to take the next step and join the Navy next year, and hopefully I’ll be able to help my teammates by passing on my knowledge and experience to them, too.” 

Showing off his new skills by manoeuvring a 15m vessel on Sydney Harbour, Loren credits his TAFE NSW teacher and expert mariner Adam Parkinson with bringing out his newfound confidence in a supportive environment through several once-in-a-lifetime activities. 

“Adam’s been really good to us, sharing with us how the maritime industry has grown over his career,” he explained

“We’ve got to tour commercial cruise ships and tall ships, and we even got to go on a jet boat on the Harbour thanks to his connections and the help of Tribal Warrior and the Sea Heritage Foundation.” 

For teacher Adam, the course is an opportunity to inspire the next generation of maritime workers after nearly 30 years in the industry, spanning everything from operating barges and water taxis on the Harbour to working on superyachts in the Mediterranean for the likes of James Packer and Tiger Woods. 

“I started my career at 16 years old doing the same identical course at TAFE NSW as these students, and it took me to jobs all around the world. It’s an incredible opportunity to now be part of training the next generation and imparting my passion for the industry and my learnings to them,” he said. 

“Loren is our star, he’s the first one to arrive and the last to leave. The Certificate I in Maritime Operations (General Purpose Hand Near Coastal) means he and his classmates will be qualified to work as part of a crew on deck or in the engine room on any vessel in Australia, and several major employers have already expressed interest in hiring them.” 

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