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Sparky adds value to his business with a solar qualification from TAFE

Joe Gauci was 16 when he joined the original SEC as an apprentice electrician in the Latrobe Valley. Growing up in Yallourn North, a job with the SEC was an easy choice.

Joe Gauci standing in fron of solar panel

The apprenticeship allowed him to work throughout the organisation, rotating to different SEC sites every six months.

“An SEC apprenticeship was one of the best you could do because they covered everything,” Joe says.

“They used to put on 50-odd apprentices every year in all the trades. We worked at Hazelwood Power Station, Yallourn, W Power Station, Morwell open cut mine, the old Briquette Factory, and down at old Yallourn, which was D Station.”

By the age of 19, Joe was a fully qualified electrician, and after a few years in the power stations, he left the SEC to set up his own business. He’s been self-employed ever since.

Forty years later, his company, Warragul-based Gauci’s Electrics, employs six electricians, including two apprentices, who work throughout Gippsland, mainly on TAFE and school maintenance, but also new builds, commercial work, and insurance replacement and repairs.

Four years ago, Joe added a new quiver to his bow, completing a Clean Energy Council-approved qualification at TAFE Gippsland that allows him to design and construct solar systems.

“Having a solar qualification adds value to my business,” Joe says. “We’ve found niche work in repairs and modifications that big solar companies don’t want to do, and you need to be accredited to do that work. We don’t say ‘no, we can’t do that’.”

Besides, it was an obvious progression.

“Solar and wind will be a big part of the future. If you’re a sparky who wants to be in the industry for the next 20 or 30 years, you’d be silly not to have the accreditation. If you don’t keep moving, you fall behind.”

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