Former Benalla College student Jeremy Connell won the 2017 Victorian Apprentice of the Year award at a ceremony in Melbourne last week.
The Wangaratta Engineering apprentice said he never thought he had a chance of winning the award.
‘‘It was fantastic. You just can’t fathom it ever happening to you, so it’s still quite surreal at the moment,’’ Jeremy said.
‘‘I was lucky enough to win an apprentice of the year award for Benalla GOTAFE which made me eligible to be entered into the national competition. But I never assumed I would have got this far. I never guessed it would actually happen.’’
State Member for Euroa and Skills, Training and Apprenticeships Shadow Minister Steph Ryan said the award was a great credit to Jeremy, his family, Benalla College, his workplace and his teachers at GOTAFE.
‘‘The award acknowledges an apprentice who has been outstanding in their trade,’’ Ms Ryan said.
‘‘For an apprentice, it is the equivalent of taking home the Oscar for best actor.
‘‘Hopefully recognition of the great work apprentices like Jeremy are doing inspire other young people to recognise the value in undertaking an apprenticeship.’’
Jeremy’s journey to winning this award began at school.
‘‘I used to go to high school at Benalla College, now P-12. That’s where I started machine tech, which introduced me to engineering,’’ Jeremy said.
‘‘From there I did a week’s work experience, and then perused a school-based apprenticeship with Wangaratta Engineering.
‘‘From there they offered me a full-time apprenticeship.
‘‘We’ve got a very diverse workplace and we get to work on many different things.
‘‘They are very helpful and supportive of me, and if a new job comes in that I haven’t had experience with, they hold it and let me have a go so I get to gain as much industry and workplace experience as I can.’’
Jeremy recommends taking on an apprenticeship as a way of gaining employment and learning a lot along the way.
‘‘It was a fantastic way for me to learn the industry and learn what would be required of me in that job,’’ he said. ‘‘It made it simple for me to decide that this is what I wanted to do.’’
●To learn more about becoming an apprentice visit www.education.vic.gov.au/training/learners/apprentices