Apprentice Transmission Life

The energy sector offers plenty of opportunities across a wide spectrum of functions and jobs for those that get a foot in the door. Zinfra’s Apprentice and Traineeship Program is one such avenue that connects new industry entrants with a dynamic mix of on-the-job learning, mentoring from experienced industry professionals and effective training from quality training providers.

Christian Lagasca is a current Zinfra apprentice transmission linesman, working on high voltage power line and substation construction and maintenance projects.

Big power infrastructure is dotted across the Australian landscape, a symbol of our achievements in energy creation and management as much as it features in Australian politics and fast evolving issues of climate change, consistent energy supply and economic creation. Transmission line work is constant, to maintain the huge numbers of towers and powerlines and build the new infrastructure Australia needs as our population grows and energy demand increases.

In Victoria alone, where Christian lives, there are over 13,000 transmission towers and 6,685km of high voltage transmission powerlines, with the electricity from power generators being directed to and changing down to lower voltages for distribution through terminal switching stations and substations to reach consumers. Zinfra is a trusted energy partner to AusNet Services who own and maintain the transmission network in Victoria, recently awarded the contract to manage the operations and maintenance in the North and East regions with the North West region to be mobilised within the next few years. In addition, Zinfra’s Projects and Construction division are frequently contracted to build new assets and upgrade the existing infrastructure. Zinfra has transmission line specialists who work across the country to ensure power is readily available to communities and industry every day.

For Zinfra’s apprentice line workers, each day offers new challenges in urban, regional and remote landscapes working on transmission assets, where the view from close to 50m in the air is nothing short of spectacular and is literally a charged experience!

For Christian, aged 33 years, a Zinfra apprenticeship has been the vehicle to upskill and
build on his trade as a licensed electrician, and grow his skills and experience in the mechanical industry. He was also seeking the ability to work outside and work with a bigger crew and within a bigger company that can provide career progression. Christian has been based out of the Keysborough Depot and studies at Holmesglen TAFE to provide the formal training aspects of his apprenticeship.

Christian outlined some of the exciting jobs he has worked on so far, since starting with Zinfra in 2019. “During my time I’ve been shuffled around and exposed to numerous different projects and environments in Victoria and SA which has been fascinating.” This includes new connection assets for the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm, constructing a 132kV powerline, clamping in conductors and the new substation at Haunted Gully out of Ballarat which will transmit the power from the windfarm into the national electricity grid. Another project has involved installing fibre optic ground-wire cabling onto towers in South Australia, which provides data transmission and improved safety and communications.

Helicopters are used to string the cables with the lines team at height to manoeuvre lines into position atop the transmission towers. Christian has also undertaken 500kV powerline insulator changeovers, giving him a full perspective on transmission life. Currently he’s working on power connections for the West Gate Tunnel in Melbourne.

“It took a while to adjust to the changing routine. We work 21 days on and a week off most projects so that can impact on home and family life but you also get a lot out of it and the time spent with your crew. That also takes time to get used to but the rewards are great.”

We asked Christian what advice he would like to give incoming Zinfra apprentices and
trainees. “Take in as much as you can from your supervisors and your crew leaders.” “Be open minded. Always ask questions when you need to.” ”Enjoy your time within this four-year apprenticeship and take advantage of where this job takes you.” “If you have any questions, any dramas, don’t hesitate to talk to your peers, your supervisors, your crew leaders, your mentors and us also, the older apprentices – we’ll reach out a lending hand to let you know we’re out here to help you as well in this journey.” “I’ve come into this apprenticeship with the knowledge of my previous pathway, as an electrician on big commercial and industrial facilities, furnaces and high-rise so I appreciate what this offers. I always say to the younger ones how good it is to be in this kind of company, and this industry by comparison. It’s a great place to be”.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we operate and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

Pictured: Artwork by Aboriginal artist Chern’ee Sutton from Mount Isa for our Group’s Reconciliation Action Plan.