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Old 09-23-2011, 11:00 PM   #1
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Default How I ended up in Fiji

I have been asked a few times now how I ended up in Fiji. Wolfgang being the latest. I am not exaggerating when I say that I probably have the best job in the world.

WARNING: The following is pretty boring to most, I can't believe I can talk so much about my self. Bit of a worry really. I thought though that it can show how life can take interesting twist and turns.

I started as a painter & decorator in 1988 or 89. I worked for a number of years for a company called OPAT in Queensland, Australia on the Gold Coast then for a number of individual contractors. I started out on my own in around 1996 but I was not ready and I did not do so well on my own, yes I was a low baller hack I must admit.

I soon realised that I needed to work for someone else and an opportunity came up with one of my clients, a resort on the Gold Coast. They wanted me to work for them full time and supervise other painters. It was not great pay but excellent conditions and I really enjoyed working there. Eventually I started some professional development and became the safety officer for the resort. This involved teaching the staff safe work practices such as chemical management for house keepers, ergonomics for office admin etc. Pretty cool change from swinging a brush.

Ater a couple of years an offer came my way to work for a training organisation on the Gold Coast teaching my trade but also being the safety officer for the college. I took to it like a duck to water for some reason, before long I was auditing the compliance systems, training trainers and supervising bricklaying, plastering and other wet trades including my own. During that time I became the regional chair for the Master Painters Association, an industry association of painting contractors.

In 2001 I was offered an opportunity to work for a regional college that covered 30% of Queensland (about the size of Texas and a bit more). This is when I started to learn how to use information technology to reach regional areas of Queensland.

In 2005 our then premier of Australia told the 14 nations of the Pacific Forum that Australia will set up a trade college that will teach the trades and help local vocational training arrangements improve the way they train skills into their nations.

In 2006 a design team identified what trades were to be taught and in what countries. They identified three schools, the school of hospitality, community services and technologies. In four locations Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Samoa. One of the trades that was identified as needing professional development was our trade, painting & decorating. They decided that the Fiji campus would cater for that.

The college came to be called the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) In 2007 I applied for a position teaching painting & decorating here in the Pacific, I arrived, set up the training facility and I have been here ever since.

I have the best students you could hope for, respectful, appreciative and fun to be with. They work so hard at doing well and they are so proud to learn the painting trade. They come from all over the place and part of my job in the first phase was to visit them on site. This meant being paid to go to places like Vanuatu, Samoa and the solomon Islands.

People think of the Pacific Islands as little Islands with tiny grass cottages, but I live in Suva, a city with high-rises. All the nations here have very wealthy investors that have large homes and their are heaps of resorts. All need good painters, we actually have trouble meeting the demands, so we introduced new industry entrant programs to top up the numbers and add to the existing workers who by far the majority need to retire soon.

Not sure how long the project will continue to offer painting & decorating but I know that at least for the next couple of years I will be doing this.
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:04 PM   #2
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Don't read this crap!!! go back to the last page! Really, it too long to read.

Moderators I don't blame you if you want to close this thread. I got carried away.
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:09 PM   #3
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words can never be carried away....they are our history an need to be documented !! an in this case your history

good post mate! .....nice to know how you got where you are
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Old 09-24-2011, 02:20 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ole34 View Post
words can never be carried away....they are our history an need to be documented !! an in this case your history

good post mate! .....nice to know how you got where you are
Inspiring mate, truly inspiring!
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Old 09-24-2011, 02:42 AM   #5
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That's awesome man... What's the average payscale for well trained journeyman painters in Fiji ?
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:03 AM   #6
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That's awesome man... What's the average payscale for well trained journeyman painters in Fiji ?
A $1.50 to $2.50 US per hour, I know sad isn't it. I am hoping that in time some of my students may be able to start there own business and do better then that.

I get paid by the Australian Government as an AID worker. So my standard of living is very good compared to people around me. I found that hard to get my head around at first. I felt uncomfortable having so much while people here have so little.
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:15 AM   #7
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Thanks Michael, that is very interesting, and the passion you have for the people and the trade is obvious, kudos.
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:35 AM   #8
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Thank you Michael. Sounds like you had a go with destiny whether you realized it or not at the time. It's obvious by your posts that you take great pride in what you do and in your students, only deserving that you should take great pride in yourself.

I have had the fortune to visit/live/work in other countries and cultures myself. There were times I was greatly surprised in the disparity of the socio-economic differences, but soon learned that these were people not much different then myself. Lived on Guam '67-69 and was able to visit a few of the Micronesian islands through a youth group.

Humorous story of Samoa. The Air Force Base chaplain on Guam was a strict Baptist. Bless him though, he was always visiting the different islands, and, raising different drives for clothing and other essentials. One Sunday he asked that everybody donate at least one new T-shirt as the women on Somoa usually went around topless and he felt they should be dressed fully. Soon there were cases of t-shirts ready to be taken to Somoa and as part of the youth group, we all went there to distribute them. Being the strict Baptist he was, he made sure that all the youth stayed out of sight until the shirts were distributed. The citizens were estatic with their new clothing. Within two days all the women had cut out two strategically located holes in all of the shirts. Seems the baring of breasts was a source of pride, comfort, and ease in nursing the children. We never had another t-shirt drive for as long as I can recall. LOL
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:53 AM   #9
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Cool story Wolfgang. Thanks for the positive comments.
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Old 09-24-2011, 09:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacificpainters.com View Post
Don't read this crap!!! go back to the last page! Really, it too long to read.

Moderators I don't blame you if you want to close this thread. I got carried away.
HA!
You gotta be kiddin', Mate.
That was a great read, even w/ a first cup of morning coffee.

Thanks for taking the time to type it up...I learned a lot.
(but I mostly leaned how cool it must be to be you)

(thanks to Wolf too...I'm gonna be imagining those cut out T-shirts all day. I wonder if cut out one for my wife if she'd...never mind)
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