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Young Indian migrant finds niche in an ‘unusual job’ to make ends meet amid COVID-19 lockdowns

Barinder Singh works as a rope access technician in Melbourne. Source: Supplied by Mr Singh

Barinder Singh 'Bajwa' works as a rope access technician in a company involved in the maintenance and inspection work across various skyscrapers in Melbourne's CBD.

Barinder Singh, who has risen to popularity among friends and community members because of his unique professional choice, says his determination to emerge out of financial distress steered him towards picking up an uncommon occupation of a rope access technician.

"Like many other international students, I also faced financial difficulties during the coronavirus lockdowns.

"But I was determined to overcome and bounce out of this situation. So I decided to become a rope access technician, which is not a very common profession, particularly among migrants or international students," says the 29-year-old who came to Australia on a student visa.


Highlights:

  • Indian temporary visa holder finds financial stability in an "unusual profession"
  • Barinder Singh is a rope access technician who carries out a range of tasks that involve wearing a harness and being suspended from a rope
  • The 29-year-old says the job is not for the faint-hearted

Who is a rope access technician?

Rope access technicians carry out a range of complex tasks and are carried out by trained professionals because they have to be undertaken while wearing a harness while being suspended from a rope.

Tasks often range from high-rise window cleaning to repairing and inspecting infrastructures – such as power plants, wind turbines, and bridges.

Barinder Singh had to adjust to the new and challenging working conditions.
Barinder Singh had to adjust to the new and challenging working conditions.
Supplied by Mr Bajwa

Mr Singh, who has previously worked in a factory, says his love for adventure helped him adjust to the difficult working conditions that require specialised training and a lot of courage.

He claims that he is no longer scared of abseiling from high-rise buildings. 

"I am the type of person who is not afraid of taking up new challenges. I am very adventurous and love to get involved in activities like skydiving and other high-energy games," he says.  

Recalling his journey, Mr Singh says he had to complete at least four technical courses to obtain a licence to become a trained rope technician. 

"Honestly, I found the training process a bit tedious. But looking back, I can understand why there are so many tests and requirements given the safety concerns attached to this job. It is a legal requirement for people to have these training and assessments completed. And these can't be taken lightly.

"Apart from dedication, the training also involves a lot of money. In the beginning, I had to purchase a kit worth $10,000, which is a mandatory requirement," he shares.

Barinder Singh works across various skyscrapers in the Melbourne CBD.
Barinder Singh works across various skyscrapers in the Melbourne CBD.
Supplied by Mr Singh

Mr Singh shared that he joined the training course to become a rope access technician after being encouraged by his Canada-based friend who works in a similar sector.

"My friend, Daler, had a lot of experience. He was the one who encouraged me to take the plunge. If it hadn't been for him, I don't think I would have committed to this daring profession that requires you to suspend from ropes from skyscrapers.

This job isn't for the faint-hearted

Besides his passion for high adrenaline activities, Mr Singh says he loves his job as it allows him to live a comfortable life. 

"I am glad that I am making at least two or three times more than what people make doing the usual jobs chosen by international students and temporary migrants in Australia," he says.

But Singh adds that many Indian migrants who show interest in this profession sometimes feel deterred by their identity and cultural appearance.

"I want to add that I wear a turban, and I have never encountered any problems due to my identity. My company and my colleagues have always shown respect, and I am very proud of that," he says.

Barinder Singh loves sky diving and other adventurous sports activities.
Barinder Singh loves sky diving and other adventurous sports activities.
Supplied by Mr Bajwa

Mr Singh hails from Ladhubhana village in Gurdaspur district in Punjab, in north India.

Before migrating to Australia, he used to work in the shipping industry, an experience that took him to many middle-eastern countries.

The young migrant who hopes to get his permanent residency early next year says he is lucky to be living in Australia.

"This is a beautiful country. If you are skilled and committed to your job, it isn't difficult to find financial stability."

Listen to Barinder Singh's conversation in Punjabi:

Young Indian migrant finds niche in an ‘unusual job’ to make ends meet amid COVID-19 lockdowns
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