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Michael Edwards, a mature-aged electrical apprentice with Snowy Hydro has been crowned Apprentice of the Year at the 2018 Australian Training Awards.
“It’s an amazing honour and a privilege to represent at a national level, let alone win,” Michael said.
The national awards, held at the International Conference Centre in Sydney, represent the peak of achievement for individuals, businesses and registered training organisations in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.
Michael took a punt and changed careers in his late 30s.The now 39-year-old, who spent 15 years as a motor mechanic after completing his first apprenticeship, was given the opportunity by his employer, Snowy Hydro, to undertake a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician.
Michael had been working for Snowy Hydro as a cloud-seeding technician where he excelled in turning ice nuclei into snow. A career planning session led to idea of becoming a mature-age apprentice.
“I chose to become an electrician due to the career opportunities within Snowy Hydro and to gain hands-on training that would stand me in good stead across the world,” said Michael, who now works from the company’s base in the NSW town of Khancoban.
“I’ve also been fortunate to have an employer in Snowy Hydro that shares my determination to get every ounce of ability out of their employees.”
Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad paid tribute to Mr Edwards’ achievement, describing him as a “humble hero”.
“Everyone at Snowy Hydro is thrilled for Mick and we could not be prouder of his achievements. It is fitting recognition for someone who is a quiet achiever – deeply humble about his contribution and positive impact he has on everyone around him,” Mr Broad said.
“Mick is a valued member of the Snowy Team, his preparedness to share his knowledge, experience and skills with others lifts the whole team.”
Michael lives at Corryong near the NSW/Victoria border. During his apprenticeship, he undertook a four-hour round trip to attend classes at TAFE NSW’s Wagga Wagga campus, where he impressed teachers with his determination, positivity and aptitude.
He finished the four-year apprenticeship in three, and, in his final ‘capstone’ assessment, achieved a 100% in his practical exam and 93% for the knowledge exam – the highest mark ever achieved at TAFE NSW Wagga Wagga.
Michael praised TAFE NSW for their “incredible support”. “It’s such a dynamic learning environment and it really inspired me to achieve at this level.”
TAFE NSW Regional General Manager Kerry Penton said, “Michael is an inspiration and this award is testament to his talent, determination and work ethic”.
“It’s also a reflection of the wonderful support of his employer Snowy Hydro Limited and the exceptional training provided to him by TAFE NSW.
“I have no doubt Michael will go on to forge a highly successful career and will be a great ambassador for TAFE NSW.”
In the future, Michael plans to continue his learning through VET, with a Diploma of Electrical Engineering on the cards. He also hopes that one day, “My girls and boy will pursue a career in the trades”.