Racing NSW, TAFE NSW Western Sydney

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Mature aged students getting qualified

Garry Frazer and Bob Purvis (left to right) are studying Track Maintenance with the Australian Racing and Equine Academy

Veteran racetrack maintenance workers Bob Purvis and Garry Frazer have proven that it’s never too late to learn new tricks.

The pair, who head the track maintenance operations of the Muswellbrook Race Club, have recently commenced traineeships with the Australian Racing and Equine Academy (AREA) that will eventually see them graduating with a Certificate III Track Maintenance National Qualification at the end of their studies.

While hesitant at embarking on studies in later life, the on-the-job training formula that AREA offers has sold them on the advantages of achieving a qualification.

“The format of the course is the best thing about it, and, that’s one-the-job accreditation,” Bob Purvis said.

“All of the units that we complete are done on-the-job which is a bonus, as we don’t have to attend class or alter our work schedule. It’s also at our own pace.

“I have done some other short courses in the past which have been in a classroom and its very enjoyable doing a qualification on-the-job and learning self-paced.

“I’m 50 years old now and Garry is 60, so, if we can do it, there’s no reason why others can’t have a go!”
While Purvis is furthering his education, Frazer revealed that this is the first time that he has enrolled in a course.

“I was a bit hesitant with this being the first course that I’ve done,” Frazer said. “But I think it’s excellent and I haven’t looked back!”

While traineeships can be daunting at an older age, the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process allows for existing skills and knowledge to be recognised and credited allowing quicker course completion.

“We’ve received a bit of ‘RPL’ or recognition for existing skills that we have which is great,” Purvis said.

“But we’re also learning new things also which is great. The units are testing our skills and are painting a brighter picture for us.”

Track Maintenance qualifications that have been rolled out by AREA include a mixture of on-the-job training, as well as distance subjects that are delivered jointly by Richmond TAFE’s Horticulture Unit and regional-based AREA workplace trainers and assessors.

AREA Hunter North West-based trainer and assessor Melina Remacle, who manages the training of Purvis and Frazer, has praised their efforts.

“You couldn’t find nicer people to work with,” Remacle said. “They are both very knowledgeable and dedicated to their job.”

In true AREA fashion, Remacle also provides further support to her trainees who need more assistance.

“Garry enjoys having me as a secretary. He rattles along and leaves all the writing to me!” Remacle said.

Helen Sinclair, the Muswellbrook Race Club General Manager, is also pleased with the progression of her Track Maintenance trainees and their dedication to undertaking a qualification.

“Both Garry and Bob are mature aged students and this is their first qualification,” Sinclair said.

“They are doing very well and they are also really enjoying the course. I would have to recommend the training to other Race Clubs.”

For further information of the Track Maintenance traineeships, as well as other courses, visit racingacademy.com.au or contact the Academy office on 1800 200 724.

* Training proudly supported by BHP Billiton Mt Arthur Coal - a partner to Muswellbrook Race Club for more than 12 years!