Two wins in a row for Top End top Cats 

Luke Banfield has been named Hastings Deering’s 2020 Apprentice of the Year (AOTY) pipping six other finalists in the prestigious annual competition. 

At 34, Banfield said he worked to a motto of ‘taking everything in your stride’, applying to Hastings Deering three times before being successful in the company’s 2017 apprentice intake. 

This is a back to back win for the NT: last year Andrew Creber was Apprentice of the Year. Both Creber and Banfield were both mature age apprentices proving you are never too old to upgrade your skills. The competition, held in Brisbane last week, was postponed from early this year when the city shut down under COVID restrictions.

“Life often doesn’t work out the way you planned but that doesn’t mean you give up on your dreams,” Banfield said, “In 2012 I started a diesel fitter apprenticeship at McCarthur Mines but they were unable to sustain the traineeships so I went into rigging for Monadelphous. I was making good money, but I think the reason you see so many mature age apprentices from the NT is there comes a time when it is about more than making good money. 


“There are so many opportunities in the Territory. When you are younger you are working just so you can live for the weekends: you don’t have to be interested in your work. And then you realise you will be working for a long time and you need something more to sustain you: something to take to the future. 

“I applied three times to Hastings Deering before I was successful. It is such a great opportunity for me. I would be meeting and working with guys who worked for Hastings and you could see the level they were at: by 30 I said this is it: it’s now or never.” 

This is the 43rd year of the award which is a prelude to entry to a global competition by machinery giant Caterpillar to celebrate the very best in training.  

Banfield will now compete in the next round of competition against Caterpillar apprentices from dealerships across the rest of Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.  In the past a win in this final came with travel to the United States for specialist training, but with travel still restricted the next rounds will be undertaken in a virtual competition. 

Hastings Deering managing director Dean Mehmet said apprenticeships continued to be highly sought after with this year’s apprenticeship applications up 30% on 2020 which was a back to back record year with 2019. 

“The diesel fitter apprenticeship is clearly the applicant’s preferred trade across all our locations,” Mr Mehmet said. “Luke impressed trainers in the way he was focussed and methodical in following procedures that are critical when problem shooting machinery. 

“In the last 18 years, Hastings Deering has trained more than 2000 apprentices and we remain one of the largest trainers of apprentice diesel fitters in Australia, committed to replenishing the talent pipeline.”

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