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Tamworth exporter grows thanks to Zimbabwean migrants

Out of Africa… Fitter/machinists Maxwell Matandaudyi and Courage Munyakari, Tamworth’s Apollo Engineering Managing Director Dave Errington, and first-class welders, Wellington Bigone and Komborero Anthony Chikonyera.
Out of Africa… Fitter/machinists Maxwell Matandaudyi and Courage Munyakari, Tamworth’s Apollo Engineering Managing Director Dave Errington, and first-class welders, Wellington Bigone and Komborero Anthony Chikonyera.

Tamworth manufacturer, Apollo Engineering is a quiet achiever in the advanced manufacturing sector of Northern Inland NSW. In challenging times, the business is expanding and achieving strong growth, with domestic and global markets. “It would have been very difficult for us to grow our business as rapidly as we have without the input of our five skilled migrants,” Apollo Engineering Managing Director Dave Errington said.

“We specialise in manufacturing industrial cleaning equipment for domestic and international markets and have done so for 25 years. We have been expanding into such areas as the manufacture of food waste processing machines. We struggle to find the skilled trades people we need. Our four Zimbabwean workers have been a massive benefit to the business; to the culture in the workplace, as well as our productivity. Our workforce has grown to 36 and I expect we will need more skilled migrants as we continue to diversify and grow,” Mr. Errington said.

The Apollo Engineering story is the latest skilled migration case study produced and published online by Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI). “Our Skilled Regional State Nominated visa program brought four metal trades workers from Zimbabwe. They came with a decade of experience in South Africa, a strong work ethic and a commitment to settle and integrate into the Tamworth community,” Regional Development Australian Northern Inland (RDANI) Senior Skilled Migration & Project Officer Gary Fry said.

RDANI Chair Russell Stewart lauded the case study as RDANI’s best illustration of why regional migration is vital to the economic development of Northern Inland NSW. “These four individuals from Zimbabwe have been a real win for Apollo Engineering, Tamworth and the region. As they describe in the case study video, settling in a regional community has been a big win for them also,” he said.

Beaming with delight at the home his family has found in Tamworth is first-class welder, Wellington Bigone. His wife also secured employment and his son plays soccer with the boss’ son. At the age of 43, Wellington still plays soccer with a local team and also participates in park run events. “Apollo Engineering is a great place to work. The people in this community and at work are helpful and supportive, which enabled my family and I to adapt and settle in really well,” he said.

Wellington said he did not know what to expect to find in regional Australia and knew even less about Tamworth. “To my surprise, we really loved it. We didn’t like big cities in South Africa, where I worked for 11 years. There were a lot of pressures, traffic and some crime. Tamworth is beautiful and the community is friendly. I am living just five minutes’ drive from the city centre to my workplace. I start work at five in the morning but only leave home at 4:45am.”

“Choosing regional Australia is a brilliant idea for a skilled migrant. We really appreciate the work of Regional Development Australian Northern Inland, the NSW Government and the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs. We really needed the support that we received. We want to take this opportunity to say thank you,” Mr. Bigone said.

Fitter/machinist Courage Munyakari described settling in Tamworth and working at Apollo Engineering as a ‘wonderful experience’. “It was better being a skilled migrant in this region than the city because in the city lifestyle is more expensive and people in the regions are more welcoming and they still live in communities,” he said.

First Class welder Komborero Anthony Chikonyera is very happy with how his ‘life-changing opportunity’ has worked out. “It is not very different to the work I did in South Africa but the technology here is more advanced. It is a big community and we got a lot of help to settle in, which is quite different to going to the city,” he said.

Fitter/machinist Maxwell Matandaudyi said that he found a very multicultural community in Tamworth. It doesn’t matter where you are coming from, in the community or our workplace, we are accommodated and accepted for who we are. I am gratefully to be in Tamworth,” he said.

Regional Development Australian Northern Inland brought these skilled migrants to the region, through the Skilled Regional State Nominated (489 sub-class) visa program. This visa is now closed and will be replaced by the similar Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) subclass 491 visa on 16 November 2019.

View the video on the case studies section of the RDANI website: http://www.rdani.org.au/skilled-migration/skilled-migration-case-studies.php

or on YouTube:


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