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Meet Rory, the Australian Apprentice of the Year

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Trades, Vocational Education and Training
Rory with Big Kev the dinosaur

Overseeing the move of Big Kev the dinosaur may not be the most important recent event in Rory Milner’s life, but it’s right up there. “Big Kev is a Territory icon. People ask me, ‘How’s Kev? Will he be safe?” says the Charles Darwin University graduate.

As the manager at the Bunnings Warehouse construction site in Palmerston, one of Rory’s many responsibilities is disassembling the 18-metre tall model of the leaf-eater, then bolting him back together when construction is complete.

Rory is certainly as qualified as anyone to move dinosaurs, having graduated from CDU a few years ago with a Bachelor of Engineering. But then, with his degree completed, Rory chose to take his career in a very different direction.

“I decided I wanted to be in construction rather than behind a desk, so at CDU I pursued a Certificate III in Carpentry, leveraging my engineering background to fast track the qualification,” said Rory, who also completed a Certificate IV in Building and Construction at CDU.

The carpentry lecturers at CDU were knowledgeable and very practical focused, using lots of real-world examples to impart their experiences.

“Without the support and feedback of the CDU team it would have made it much harder to take out the 2019 Australian Apprentice of the Year, that’s for sure.” Or for that matter, the 2019 Austin Asche NT Apprentice of the Year, another of Rory’s achievements.

Rory, Australian apprentice of the year
Rory at the Australian apprentice of the year awards.

Rory won a stack of awards in 2018, too: Master Builders Australia National Apprentice of the Year, Master Builders Australia NT Overall Apprentice of the Year, and the Master Builders Australia NT General Building and Construction Apprentice of the Year.

All this meant a very busy time for Rory, a born and bred Darwinite who identifies as Maori. “It was a challenge being a single father, a full-time worker and a full-time student, which meant I had to be very good at time management and organising to get everything done,” said Rory, who’s passionate about people using VET programs to kickstart their career.

Go for it—continuing your education and developing your skills can help accelerate your career or even change your life’s journey.

And as for the fate of Big Kev the brachiosaurus?

“Big Kev holds a special place in locals’ hearts. Kev puts Darwin on the map, in my opinion. We’ll keep him here on site in a safe location. Once the new hardware store is built, we’ll put him back together somewhere on site. And this will be his forever home,” added Rory.

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