BRIGHT SPARK: Rio Tinto Yarwun Employee Richard O'Brien is a regional finalist at the Queensland Training Awards.
BRIGHT SPARK: Rio Tinto Yarwun Employee Richard O'Brien is a regional finalist at the Queensland Training Awards. Contributed

Local Rio Tinto sparky up for major state award

HARD work has paid off for electrician Richard O'Brien.

The Rio Tinto Yarwun employee has been recognised as one of 221 regional finalists for this year's Queensland Training Awards.

Mr O'Brien was nominated for the Harry Hauenschild Apprentice of the Year for his Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician/Certificate III in Instrumentation and Control by Central Queensland University.

He is one of three representing Central Queensland from a pool of more than 865 applications across the state.

Mr O'Brien said it was a great feeling to be nominated.

"The support and recognition I have received from my peers, mentors and colleagues has been really personally fulfilling,” he said.

"The original application involved answering some questions about my career and training achievements, team and communication skills.

"I also had to submit written letters of support from Rio Tinto Yarwun. Once I was shortlisted I participated in a phone interview with a three-person panel.” He said he believed his determination made him stand out above the rest.

"I was unsuccessful in the round for the 2013 CQ industries apprenticeship intake,” Mr O'Brien said.

"That year I ended up working full time in retail and took on work experience while I waited for the next opportunity apply.

"I was successful in 2014 apprenticeship intake.”

Mr O'Brien has worked for Rio Tinto since 2014 while studying his apprenticeship and an Associate Degree of Electrical Engineering.

"From a young age I was intrigued by all things electrical,” he said.

"At Christmas or on my birthdays my favourite presents were electrical train tracks or flashing light boxes that were home-made by my grandfather who was an ex-RAAF radio technician. After school I wanted to learn more about the electrical trade as I was no longer content wiring spotlights, radios and batteries in cars or boats.

"I was able to was able to secure an apprenticeship with Rio Tinto Yarwun through previous work experience and my school results.”

He said winning the award would be a "welcome surprise”.

"If I won I'd be proud to be an ambassador for training in Australia,” he said.

The Regional finals for the Queensland Training Awards will be held around the state during July.

Regional winners will go on to represent their region at the Queensland Training Awards State Gala Dinner, to be held on September 14 in Brisbane.

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