National Apprentice Challenge

Thursday 18 & Friday 19 May 2023
South Bank Piazza

Heats: Thursday 18 May | 8.00am – 3.30pm
Semi & finals: Friday 19 May | 8.00am – 2.00pm

Winners of the 2021 HVIA National Apprentice Challenge – staged at the Brisbane Truck Show – say the experience has put them on the path to hugely rewarding careers in Australia’s heavy vehicle industry

For team mates Luke Kneebone and Samuel Allan, competing in the 2021 HVIA National Apprentice Challenge was a daunting – but ultimately rewarding – experience.

Chosen from nominees from all around Australia to represent the Southern region (Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania), Luke and Samuel competed for the first two days of heats in front of audiences of more than 500 school students – and for the first time under the gaze and scrutiny of the public, in the cauldron-like arena of the South Bank Piazza.

In the end Luke, from Webster Trucks in Devonport, Tasmania, and Samuel, from Ballarat Isuzu, prevailed in the pressure-cooker final to take the title, snaring prizes including a set of tools and a hosted trip to the Supercars Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 – with the full corporate treatment, pit lane tours and a whole lot more.

More importantly, they say the Challenge helped them build both their technical skills as well as skills in team work, communication, time management, and working under pressure from having an audience watching their every move.

“It has broadened my view of the industry, being able to see different aspects of my field of work,” Luke reflects.

2023 Apprentice Challenge
2023 Apprentice Challenge

Samuel – who concedes the experience was initially “quite nerve-racking” – adds the Challenge has improved his time management and vehicle fault diagnosis skills.

“At the start of each round we had five minutes to plan our approach to the seven faults, but during the Challenge there was no time to stand back and think about ways to diagnose them as we were under the pump for the entire 45 minutes,” he says.

“If we were struggling with a fault at times we just had to stop what we were doing and help each other out instead. I think this added to my team working skills as well.

“Competing in this Challenge has definitely had a positive impact on me. The skills I have gained from it I use every day while at work including working as a team and good communication to get things done on time. I think this is an important skill to have especially when taking on bigger roles such as managing/supervising a workshop.”

What’s more, Luke’s Service Manager, Craig Ferrall, who attended the show to cheer him on, says the win has been a confidence booster for the young apprentice – and his work colleagues.

National Apprentice Challenge Winners
2021 winners Luke Kneebone and Samuel Allan say the competition was a rewarding experience

Since joining Webster Trucks as a first-year apprentice, he says Luke has shown great promise and has always been willing to push himself to achieve the best for himself, the business and customers.

“Webster Trucks encourage all our apprentices to strive to be their best and someone like Luke becomes the real-life example that if you apply yourself, you can do it,” he says.

“And again, it’s another way of promoting the talents of our team to our customers and more so the bragging rights we have over our other branches and dealers.”

Samuel’s boss, Jonnie Arnel, who also attended the show to support his young apprentice, agrees.

“It has made Sammy have more belief in himself on what he can achieve and more open to take on future challenges,” he notes.

“The Challenge is a great way to show the apprentice where the industry can take them, to get them away from the workshop and experience different parts of the industry.

“It also is a great way to bring the apprentices out of their shell and show them what they can achieve.

“I think it is also beneficial when entering an apprentice to show other apprentices also where they can go if the interest and effort is shown.”

National Apprentice Challenge
National Apprentice Challenge

As the countdown begins to the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show, the 2021 victors are urging apprentices and their employers to get involved in next year’s Challenge.

“I would highly recommend any apprentice with a passion for the industry to take part in the Challenge as it is a very rewarding experience,” Luke says.

In 2023 the Challenge will adopt an exciting new format aimed at positioning it as the peak national apprentice competition.

In a further boost to its prominence, the competition will now be held over the first two days of the show, when crowds are biggest, with heats staged on Thursday and Friday and, for the first time, the final taking place on Friday afternoon – again at the South Bank Piazza.

Participants will enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show for the four days.

And in 2023 their skills will be tested on a Western Star truck, courtesy of sponsor Penske Australia.

The 2023 Apprentice Challenge will be held at the South Bank Piazza over the first two days of the show

The winning team will be the first to identify and repair all the faults, or the team that rectifies the most faults within the allowed timeframe.

For visitors to the show the competition is a dynamic spectacle, with commentary explaining the apprentices’ moves and strategy, as their approach unfolds. Things can get tense as the teams watch their available time evaporate.

The event is being co-ordinated by former HVIA Director Chris Musch, who knows first-hand how far an apprentice’s career can go.

“I started in this great industry as an apprentice when I was fifteen, just like our nominees,” he says.

“It has given me opportunities to work in many different sectors of the industry, both here in Australia and overseas, from the shop floor and into different levels of management.”

Brisbane Truck Show

HVIA CEO Todd Hacking says the number of participants in the 2023 National Apprentice Challenge is testimony to the emerging talent coming into the heavy vehicle industry.

“The response has again been exceptional, with participants including second-, third- and fourth-year apprentices, Australia-wide,” he says.

“These young people are at the beginning of a journey that will open doors to hugely rewarding career paths with Australian and international companies involved in the manufacture, distribution and support of trucks, trailers and their components.”

The Apprentices

  • Brayden Conaghan, Penske Australia (TAFE Qld Skills Tech)
  • Lachlan Tate, Brown & Hurley (TAFE Qld Skills Tech)
  • Sara Attard, Transport for NSW (TAFE NSW)
  • Ben Seyffer, Nowra Truck & Trailer Repairs (TAFE NSW)
  • Nathan Kaker, Penske Australia (Central Regional TAFE WA)
  • Caleb Todd, Cummins South Pacific (Central Regional TAFE WA)
  • Jacob Zurzolo, MTAWA (SM TAFE WA)
  • Blade Elzerm, Major Motors Isuzu (SM TAFE WA)
  • Paris Maw, CMV Truck & Bus Wodonga (Kangan TAFE VIC)
  • Jackson Marriott, Peninsula Diesel (Kangan TAFE VIC)
  • Kyle Guy, Followmont Transport (Busy at Work QLD)
  • Ryan Robinson, Followmont Transport (Busy at Work QLD)

Key Event Times

  • Heat 1: Thursday, 8:00am-9:15am
  • Heat 2: Thursday, 10:15am-11:30am
  • Heat 3: Thursday, 12:30pm-1:45pm
  • Heat 4: Thursday, 2:15pm-3:30pm
  • Heat 5: Friday, 8:00am-9:15am
  • Heat 6: Friday, 10:15am-11:30am
  • Final: Friday, 12:30pm-2:00pm