Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram With a decade of commitment to the Doorways 2 Construction program at Pasadena High School in Adelaide, teacher Peter Photakis has recently been recognised with two awards from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The accolades, including the Excellence in Training award and 10 years of Outstanding Service for the head training instructor of this Vocational Education and Training (VET) course, have highlighted a career that has paved the way for students to develop their skills in the trade industries from year 10 to year 12. Peter Photakis has been the driving force behind the Doorways 2 Construction program at Pasadena High School. The program took off in 2003 with one class, and now includes four programs, with students coming from up to 20 schools, both public and private, within the zone. Lacking the facilities and equipment up to training standards that the program was dealing with in its early days, the driven teacher has built it up to include a state of the art $1.5 million Trade Training Centre. The Federal government funding child, the centre now allows students to be fully trained and ready to use the equipment. “The course is basically learning skills to become a tradie – whether carpenter, plumber, electrician… They learn reading and interpreting plans, costing and measuring, learning how to communicate in the industry. We make sure they know how to use hand tools, power tools, machines in the Trade Centre, so they are ready for the industry,” Mr Photakis tells Neos Kosmos.And with Year 11 and Year 12 students who complete this program needing only two years to get full certificate, Mr Photakis says the industry wants students from these courses, as they have already been trained. In the Trade Training Centre at Pasadena High School, Mr Photakis is running a carpentry course. As he tells, 9 out of 10 students interested in a trade want to become carpenters.‘Through these 11 years we had some great success; two thirds of the students that have gone through the centre have become qualified industry tradespeople.” Originally a design and technology teacher, Peter Photakis was also a founder of the Greek program at Adelaide’s Unley High School in 1979. In the manner of a deeply committed teacher, every time he notices something worthwhile that is going to be of interest to school and students, he retrains in the new field. That’s how he entered the D2C program. Doorways2construction (D2C) began as a pilot program in 2000 in direct response to the construction industry’s need to encourage young people to consider building and construction as a career option and overcome negative sentiment among school students, teachers and parents about the construction industry.After receiving the award, Mr Photakis says he feels humbled and honoured by the recognition. But above all, the biggest reward for him is the great success in teaching and training students for a pathway to the building industry. The 10 Years of Outstanding Service award, presented in conjunction with Australia Day, has a special significance for Peter Photakis. Born in Greece, with his family he migrated to Australia in 1957, at the age of eight. “I’m still very proud and passionate about being Greek, and still very much a typical Greek. I’m not short of telling people where I come from, and I’m not short of telling them – if it wasn’t for the Hellenes and their era, you guys wouldn’t even be talking,” Mr Photakis says with a laugh. And of his Greek dignity, it’s enough to say the words he used when receiving the award: “Not bad for a Greek, hey?”“It’s not just me who has won the award, it’s the particular success of the students – if it wasn’t for the students in the program, it wouldn’t be running. I’m very humbled that I got it, I am going to treasure it for the rest of my life. To get an Australian Day medallion is a great honour. “But, at the end, I put success down to one thing- the acceptance of my program by the students that I teach.”Though close to the end of his career, Mr Photakis is determined not to give up, just yet. The industry is very much chasing him to become involved with programs similar to D2C across the state. And he is not giving up before he introduces stone masonry, which he carries in his memories from Greece, to Australia.