From army to apprenticeship – bright future ahead for Dematec’s Mathew Snelgar

Growing up in the South of Adelaide, 26-year-old Mathew Snelgar knew he always wanted to join the army as a soldier. Straight out of High School, he joined the Australian Defence Force and completed his basic training in New South Wales. He was posted to Brisbane just after his nineteenth birthday and spent his younger twenties serving in the ADF and doing a tour in Afghanistan.

Mathew travelled extensively with the army to take part in exercises and experiences overseas such as training with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force in Papua New Guinea and the Japanese Ground Defence Force in Japan. He also took part in mountainous warfare training in South Korea and training in New Zealand.

During this time, he was deployed to Afghanistan as a Guardian Angel. Guardian Angels are the Force Protection Element that watches over trainers, mentors and advisers working in Afghanistan, keeping them safe from potential threats. It was as part of this team that Mathew was awarded the Chief Mentor Commendation for outstanding service while on tour in Afghanistan.

In 2019, Mathew ticked off his childhood dream of being a soldier and decided to move back to Adelaide. “I have always wanted to join the army first and use that as a foundation to get my core values right. I feel that I have achieved this with the experiences and everyday life in the army,” said Mathew.

He enrolled for a Certificate II in Electrotechnology through TAFE, which he completed in three months. This course provided him with the fundamental skills to be able to apply for an apprenticeship within the electrical industry. Mathew received a few job offers but chose

Dematec Automation as it provided him with a gateway into the defence and communications work that he really enjoys.

Mathew is also Dematec’s first employee to participate in an Advanced Apprenticeship Pilot program. This is a key initiative of the Australian Government to ensure South Australia has the highly skilled workforce it needs to deliver key Defence projects. Mathew was selected as one of only 20 students to receive a full scholarship to complete an Associate Degree in Engineering through UniSA.

The Advanced Apprenticeship combines higher and vocational (on-the-job) education with the main aim of producing skilled graduates with in-demand engineering capabilities.

Dematec has given Mathew the opportunity to study while being involved in highly specialised and innovative Defence projects such as the Hunter Class Frigate Program, the largest surface shipbuilding project in Australia’s Defence history.

When asked what his future holds, Mathew said, “I am very well-driven and don’t see myself stopping at any set point. I am a big fan of extra education and I want to see how far I can push that.”

When he is not studying or working on cars, Mathew enjoys spending time on the beach and doing downhill longboarding.

Click here to learn more about Dematec Automation’s Defence Capabilities.

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