The '$180m man too skilled for trolley pushing'
HE CONTROLLED $180 million dollars worth of equipment at a uranium mine and a year later 33-year-old Damien Burridge wasn't good enough to be a trolley pusher for Woolworths.
The former Queensland Alumina Limited and uranium mine worker was one of 28 people to gradutate Gladstone Engineering Alliance and the State Government's Skilling Queenslanders for Work program on Wednesday.
And he was one of 22 to finish the 18-week program with a job.
Previously Mr Burridge worked for nine years, first at QAL and then in South Australia as a control room operator at a uranium mine.
When the mine closed, he moved back to Gladstone looking for work.
"In the first six months there were a whole bunch of 'thank you but no thank you'," he said.
"After that, (the employers) think there is something wrong with you because you've been unemployed for so long.
"I was not good enough to be pushing trolleys for Woolies. Yes I applied for a trolley-pushing job."
Mr Burridge only heard about Skilling Queenslanders for Work on the day the applications closed. He applied but didn't hold much hope of being one of the 28 job seekers.
He was picked to work with Conservation Volunteers Australia four days a week and spent his Mondays on skills training.
An on graduation day he started his new job at Corfields Electrical.
"Without the connections between GEA and businesses this wouldn't have happened he said," he said.
Gladstone Engineering Alliance chief executive officer Carli Homann said the program provided job seekers aged 17 to 63 with confidence.
"It has given them the attitude and the right skills to compete in the work- force," Ms Homann said.
"Some had been made redundant and some unemployed. We have been able to get them out working and re- educating them."