Student of the month: Shi Feng Chen

One of the things we’re truly proud of at TIV is that we’re able to contribute to the professional development of students at all different stages in life.

Our latest student of the month, Shi Feng Chen, worked as a plastering for 14 years before he started his training at TIV completing a Certificate IV in Building in 2018 and his Diploma in Building and Construction this year.

“I worked as a plasterer for 14 years. When I started in 2005, I just worked doing labor for a plastering company. Later on I started my own small business in 2011 which I then closed in 2013 when I started doing the foreman work for another plastering company.”

With an eye on using his training at TIV to work towards gaining his commercial building license, the past decade and a half in the industry is already quite the career story for Shi Feng but his professional life goes back even further.

Originally from China, Shi Feng moved over in 2005 when he was 27 years old after studying IT at university.

“In China, I finished my university in IT and started working in 1999. I worked in IT for six years and then moved to Australia in 2005. “

“My cousin lived in Australia for 12 years before I moved over. I like it better here. It is more comfortable than living in China.”

And a different location wasn’t the only thing Shi Feng was looking to change up in his life. When he arrived on Australian shores he had decided that six years working in IT was more than enough.

He didn’t even look for work in the field once he landed despite his experience. When I asked him why he decided to move into plastering once he made it to Australia, he didn’t have to hesitate with his answer.

“IT is boring, mate.”

Seeking a drive for a job that was a bit more physically stimulating and took him away from his computer, Shi Feng enrolled in a plastering course at Homesglen and took to it immediately. However, despite his years of experience both working for others and himself, as his career progressed to managing worksites he found he was coming up against limitations with his knowledge and capabilities.

“I wanted to know more technology about the building and know more about things builders talked about. When a builder asks me some questions about, “Why this?” or “Why you can’t do this?” I can’t explain it to them”

“At the time, I felt like I couldn’t always answer them.”

“For example, the builder I worked on with an apartment earlier, he wanted to drop the ceiling to 2.3, but the minimum is 2.4, you can’t drop to 2.3. Everybody is walking in and out so there is a limit with how low you can go with the ceiling and [there is also] how far I have to put the extensions on and building more for the movement.”

While these gaps in his knowledge weren’t stopping him from getting the job done, they were slowing things down and making him less effective during his day-to-day work. That’s when the idea of TIV came onto his radar.

“Right now I can tell them what is going on but before I don’t know. I’d get them to go to someone else because I can’t handle it. ”

And being more capable as an onsite foreman was only part of what Shi Feng is hoping to achieve with his TIV training. While he still has some training ahead of him to get where he wants to, he can already see avenues opening up.

“With my Diploma and Certificate IV, I can try to apply for different jobs with builders company. I’ve got the knowledge here to know what’s going on with the building and I’ve got the experience from my plastering.”

Shi Feng’s experience in the industry that gives him a good perspective on how effective TIV’s style of teaching can be. He is strong when discussing his views on the benefits of the onsite training component of TIV’s training courses.

“At TIV, the teachers can walk around the site with other builders and can bring all the students and explain to them what is good and what is not good. It is more easier to understand everything you can learn everything more quickly instead of in the classroom just thinking about it.”

Bridging that gap between classroom knowledge is something Shi Feng sees as important in an industry where it is important to stay on top of regulations and compliance measures.

“For me, I’ve got the experience onsite and some classmates have the experience on site as well but I know that 80% of other classmates they haven’t been onsite before.”

“Lots of things are always changing, for example at the moment the fire rate system is changing, and it’s a big change.”

Congratulations, Shi Feng Chen for being TIV’s July Student of the month.

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