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Isis Mill continues role in moulding tradesmen

Isis Mill
New to the job. Six first year apprentices who recently commenced work at Isis Central Sugar Mill. (From left) Luke Small, Lachlan Kemp, Lachlan George, Cooper Reid, Reuben Challacombe and Karlos Patrick.

The twin stacks which are synonymous with the Isis Central Sugar Mill tower above an industry that six new apprentices will call home for the next four years.

The six first year apprentices, embarking on their journey to be tradesmen, are the latest in the traditional annual intake of apprentices at the Isis Mill.

HR Manager Peet Els said the Mill maintained an average of 22 apprentices across several trade disciplines.

“The key roles for our apprentices lay within the fields of fitting and turning, boilermaking, electrical, diesel fitting and occasionally carpentry and plumbing.

“The Isis Mill sees the annual intake of apprentices as a means of assisting local youth with employment opportunities. The bulk of our apprentices are locals from Childers and the wider Bundaberg region,” said Peet.

Imperative to develop tradesmen

Mill Chief Executive Officer John Gorringe said it was imperative that the Isis Mill continue to develop tradesmen.

“The Mill is pretty much self-sufficient making and repairing most things associated with the operation of a sugar mill.”

Mr Gorringe said the Isis Mill has a history spanning more than 120 years and during that time had played a key role in providing work opportunities both on a full time and seasonal basis.

“Maintaining a local workforce of around 160 employees is indicative of the commitment the company makes to the region.

“That commitment extends to its direct community involvement through support of regional education facilities and community events such as the Childers Festival and the annual Canefire tours.

“While the employment of apprentices is undertaken on an annual basis, the Mill also participates in providing various work experience opportunities to Years 10, 11 and 12 students,” said Mr Gorringe.

Isis Mill
The Isis Mill’s first female apprentice, boilermaker Ana Kehl, now in her second year, is pictured with her supervisor Damian Johnson.

Mill’s first female apprentice

Second year apprentice boilermaker Ana Kehl boasts a unique position with Isis Central Sugar Mill being the company’s first female apprentice.

According to Peet Els, the Mill has found that more and more women are slotting into diversified roles across the company structure.

“We have women working in roles such as locomotive drivers, driver offsiders and safety officers while others are currently engaged in assisting with the roll out of the cane train line expansion.

“Ana is really developing her skills as a boilermaker and her work ethic is respected by her supervisors and workmates,” said Peet.

Ana said she had no qualms about entering into a male-dominated trade.

“I have always wanted a hands-on job and my step-dad is also in the trade, so I guess there was some direction there.

“The great thing about undertaking this trade at the Mill is the opportunity I have to work with skilled tradesmen and a broad range of machinery.”

When she’s not in the workshop, Ana enjoys competitive sport and is looking forward to playing in this season’s women’s rugby league competition in Bundaberg.

“Along with rugby league I also enjoy cricket and I am currently the only female member of the Isis cricket team. We will be playing our Division 3 grand final against The Waves this weekend after defeating Norths/YMCA.”

Find out more about the Isis Central Sugar Mill here.

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