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Carpentry apprentice takes out top ATEC training award

Posted on February 16, 2024

ATEC Annual Training Awards

Adelaide Training and Employment Centre (ATEC) has announced that Brad Wilkins, an ATEC carpentry apprentice working with ProBuild Australia, has won the highly coveted 2024 Pat O'Reilly Memorial Apprentice of the Year Award sponsored by MEGT.

The announcement was made during ATEC’s annual training awards presentation ceremony held at the Donato Reception Centre, Kilkenny South Australia, on 15 February. Presentations included 25 prestigious awards across four construction and manufacturing apprenticeship areas of carpentry, mechanical engineering, fabrication, and electrotechnology.

Brad, a mature-age carpentry apprentice employed with national construction company, ProBuild, took out the top award, based on his passion for learning and outstanding dedication, skill, and integrity throughout his apprenticeship journey.

"Brad exemplifies the spirit of excellence and commitment that we strive to foster in all our apprentices," stated ATEC's CEO, Greg Bassani. "Embarking on a career change in his 40’s while supporting a young family on an apprentice wage and winning our top award - stands as a testament to the transformative power of vocational education and training – it changes people’s lives," added Mr Bassani.

Selected from a pool of highly talented finalists, including Aidan Ponton (Electrotechnology), Jay Richards (Mechanical Engineering), and Zak Shepperd (Fabrication), Brad's exceptional performance, both on-site and at ATEC’s trade school, has earned him widespread recognition from his employer and ATEC trainers.

Attendees at ATEC’s 2024 training awards presentation for apprenticeships and traineeships.
Guests at ATEC Awards Evening

According to ATEC Trainer, Nick Soulsby, Brad's journey as an apprentice has been marked by outstanding dedication and a relentless pursuit of excellence. "From the first meeting with Brad at his sign-up at the ProBuild office to his final day at trade school, I knew that Brad was one of a kind," remarked Mr Soulsby. "His proactive approach, high standards, and eagerness to learn set him apart from his peers."

Reid Beeching, National Construction Manager at ProBuild, echoes these sentiments, highlighting Brad's exceptional work ethic and leadership qualities. "Brad has been a fantastic apprentice and a pleasure to work with," commented Mr Beeching. "His willingness to learn and grow as a builder, coupled with his exceptional communication skills, make him a valuable asset to our team."

In an interview with the ATEC judging panel, Brad expressed his gratitude for the support he has received from both ATEC and his employer, ProBuild. "Being a finalist for this award is a culmination of years of hard work and dedication," explained Brad. "I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities provided to me by ATEC and ProBuild, and I am excited to continue my journey in the construction industry. School was never my strong point but now I’m passionate about learning and have found my calling. I particularly enjoy erecting roofs and the maths behind them. Up until now, maths has never been my strength. "

Brad Wilkin's story serves as an inspiration to aspiring apprentices everywhere, demonstrating the transformative impact of vocational training and the boundless opportunities available in the trades regardless of age.

ATEC’s 2024 training awards presentation for apprenticeships and traineeships guest speaker Hugo Kregar
We were honoured to have guest speaker Hugo Kregar the State Training Awards South Australia 2023 Apprentice of the Year

Mr Bassani encourages all ages who would like to join ATEC’s list of award-winning apprentices to apply today. “At ATEC we are committed to pursuing excellence in all that we do and it's one of our core values. We welcome all suitable carpentry apprentices regardless of age, gender or prior learning experience,” said Mr Bassani.

Mr Bassani expanded on the benefits of starting a carpentry apprenticeship by adding that apprenticeships can take you anywhere, – they’re a stepping stone to a dynamic and exciting future career. “Most apprentices embark on lifelong learning on day one of their apprenticeship. Once an apprenticeship is completed, it’s not unusual for them to start their own businesses and many go on to further study,” explained Mr Bassani.

“ATEC trade graduates who have also gone on to complete a higher education qualification are highly valued by employers because of their deep insight into all aspects of their industry,” stated Mr Bassani. “Starting with a trade qualification, gaining valuable onsite experience and then tackling higher education also appeals to school leavers.”

The ongoing boom in the construction industry has boosted ATEC’s carpentry apprentices resulting in a 30% increase in the last two years at ATEC, bringing the total number being trained to over 800. “Due to the unprecedented number of carpentry apprentices, we’re expanding our Lonsdale training facility by establishing a 750 square metre Carpentry Centre of Excellence,” said Mr Bassani.

Acoustic Amigos entertains at ATEC’s 2024 training awards presentation for apprenticeships and traineeships.
Acoustic Amigos

“We plan to have the new facility up and running later this year providing an all-weather training environment to cater to the education needs of Adelaide metro, southern regional areas, and the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Carpentry Centre of Excellence will be a cutting-edge facility, equipped with the latest technology and training equipment, complemented by our experienced VET trainers. It will offer comprehensive, hands-on training that aligns with the highest industry standards, ensuring our apprentices are well-prepared for successful careers in the construction industry.

ATEC is one of South Australia’s quiet success stories. From fledgling beginnings in a small building in Largs Bay in 1989, over the years ATEC has grown to be a thriving training entity. Today it operates two well-equipped facilities strategically situated in Ottoway in the Northwest and Lonsdale in the South, training over 1,500 trade apprentices.

All ATEC staff are passionate about the provision of the highest level of training and associated services to ensure that students leave with the maximum potential to be the best that they can be, by utilising skills and knowledge they have obtained through their apprenticeship.

ATEC trainers are all highly skilled in their field of delivery, are industry experienced and are strongly focused on “Changing People’s Lives” as each student begins their journey of skills development.

Proudly South Australian, ATEC has more than 30 years of experience in “Changing People’s Lives.”

About ATEC

ATEC is a thriving Registered Training Organization (RTO) and Group Training Organisation (GTO) with a mission to develop quality apprentices, skills training, and workforce development solutions for industry and the community. With over 1,500 apprentices across four distinct trades, ATEC is proud to be a leader in the training industry, actively contributing to the growth and development of skilled professionals in South Australia. https://atec.asn.au

Photos of Brad accepting his award will be available.

How to start a carpentry apprenticeship:

  1. Prepare a short resume – one page if possible
  2. Search carpentry apprentice vacancies via job sites online & apply with your resume
  3. Get in touch directly with a Group Training Organisation (GTO) which is an organisation that employs apprentices and then places them with a host employer such as Master Builders Association or Housing Industry Association
  4. Get in touch with an AASN (Australian Apprenticeship Support Provider) provider - Mas National or MEGT websites as they often list carpentry apprenticeship vacancies
  5. You and your employer will together select a training provider that is right for you both. This may be ATEC or another training provider. It will be based on your employer’s location and where you live in addition to the training flexibility needed.
Carpentry apprenticeship and Electrotechnology apprenticeship finalists.
ATEC carpentry apprentice Brad Wilkins wins the Apprentice of the Year Award.
Engineering Fabrication and Welding, Mechanical, and Production apprenticeships
ATEC electrical apprentice finalist Aidan Ponton
group training organisation ATEC awards winners
engineering fabrication apprenticeships awards
Apprenticeships and traineeships finalists at 2024 ATEC awards night

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