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India-born Harpreet "Javi" Singh learnt a simple truth when he moved to Alice Springs - that the Northern Territory is the land of opportunity.

Despite being 30, he secured a job with highly-regarded Country Diesel Maintenance – the go-to business for diesel vehicle repairs and maintenance in Central Australia – and was given top-class training.

Javi has now been named Chair’s Choice at the MTA apprenticeship awards.

“I was so glad,” he says. “I was having trouble getting anyone to take me on because of my age.”

Javi is a qualified chef but was happy to switch to mechanics.

“I love this job and enjoy working here so much. I like all my workmates.”

One of his workmates, Cody Heenan, a member of a pioneering family in Central Australia, was named secondyear apprentice of the year.

“I’m very happy in this job,” he says. “I always wanted to be a mechanic.” Cody started his apprenticeship immediately on leaving Centralian College. Country Diesel owner Brendan Fogarty employs six tradies – three apprentices and three qualified mechanics. The apprentices are given thorough training for four years.

“I’m not happy about the level of training in many places,” he says. “Some apprentices are signed off far too early – almost a tick and flick.”

Brendan did his apprenticeship at Country Diesel and then worked there for a further decade before fulfilling every worker’s dream by buying out his boss, Ashley Whear.

The firm is busier than ever.

It carries out quality servicing and repairs to a wide range of diesel and petrol-powered vehicles, machines, and equipment.

Country Diesel is the Hino service and parts dealership in Central Australia and the agent for Spitwater, which makes industrial pressure cleaners, vacuums, heaters and fans.