Lithgow keeping the “tradie” dream alive

Twenty-two-year-old Karl Olson is living the dream after he recently graduated his apprenticeship and was immediately offered a full-time position at Thales Australia’s Lithgow Arms facility.

Karl, a local of Lithgow and an avid target shooter says that during high school he was keen to get a trade where he could use his hands.

“About half my year were all looking to find an apprenticeship,” he says. “My dad is a qualified tradesman at Thales and he spoke a lot about his job and how much he enjoyed it, so I did my work experience at Thales and I absolutely loved it. I decided right then and there that this is what I wanted to do. I was stoked when they offered me the apprenticeship.”

The apprenticeship Karl completed was a four-year Certificate III Mechanical Trade specialising in Toolmaking, and consisted of attending Lithgow TAFE one day per week and the remaining four on site at the historical Lithgow Arms factory. 

“I love working with my hands and seeing a job through from start to finish,” Karl says. “When you start with a block of raw steel and finish with a completed fixture or gauge it is very rewarding.”

Continuous Improvement Manager at Thales Lithgow David Forbes notes that the apprenticeship program at the factory is designed to grow the business with young emerging talent.

“Karl is a fine example of ‘we reap what we sow’,” says David. “The success of our apprenticeship programs is vital if we want to maintain and sustain the necessary skills to ensure our competitive capability edge into the future.”

Two months prior to Karl completing his apprenticeship he was offered a full-time position in the Toolroom.

“I guess they were happy with my work and could see potential in what I could bring to the business,” Karl smiles. “And I love it here. Every day is different. I love the variety, the precision, machining using sophisticated machines, and being in an industry where its core business aligns with my own passion – well made, accurate rifles.”

Karl says that target shooting is in his blood.

“Both my mother and my father are keen target shooters,” he says. “My sister shoots too, although I’m never lending her one of my Lithgow Arms rifles again… She shoots better than me.

“I’m so grateful to Thales for this opportunity and I’m excited about the future it brings.”