Railways welder Grant Milham once worked the track and rode the rails – as a jockey.
“No one believes me when I say that!” he laughs. “I rode track for about 10 years, riding the horses in the morning, getting them ready. It was something different, I enjoyed it.”
He moved from one male-dominated industry to another, but it was a woman who influenced his vocation with McLeod Rail. Milham’s wife, an engineer, got a rail job in Melbourne. Milham registered with a labour hire company and got work the next day.
The labour hire agent rang and said, “You can start tomorrow, I’ve got a job for you in Warrnambool” three hours away, fixing sleepers on a “tie renewal gang”, Milham says.
Milham began as a track labourer, but trained as a welder under the National Workforce Development Fund, coordinated by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council.
It’s the only formal training and qualification Milham has gained since high school, and he says the Certificate II in Rail Infrastructure has given him a better view of the big picture: his work, his industry and his ambition to be a supervisor with a Certificate III.
He’s been working on a six-month project between Wodonga and Seymour, straightening track alongside industrial services company, Harsco. “If the rail snaps due to a defect, we weld the steel back together, creating a closure,” Milham says.
The Certificate II in Rail Infrastructure has given Milham a better view of the big picture: his work, his industry and his ambition.
Rail work typically means stretches of time away from home, up to 21 days on a project with one rest day in the middle, living in a caravan, apart from his wife and infant child.
But “it’s a good job, good money, and there’s a lot of different types of work to do,” he says. “You travel a bit and meet new people, but it is hard being away from family.”
It’s important to be fit, though the physical work soon knocks a welder into shape, and it is “essential” to get along in a team, as “you’re spending your life with these people”.
He loves the work and only wishes he’d “gotten into it earlier”, but also loves the eight or nine rest days a month with his wife and baby daughter back in Melbourne.
“For the experience and the money, and building a house next year … it all helps.”
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