'It’s made me realise that hard work pays off. I’ve put in some hard yards over the years.'
An electrician who won Apprentice of the Year at the Australian Training Awards was one of five sparkies to make the finals – with three of them proud ETU members.
NSW Apprentice of the Year for 2018 Michael Edwards took the top gong in Sydney in November, but after spending a full week with Australia’s best apprentices, attending training seminars and lunches, Mick said they would have been happy for whoever was named No.1.
“We formed great group, so it would not have mattered who won,” he said, adding how oddly satisfying it was “having that many electricians in the final, let alone all ETU members”.
Mick’s fellow finalists were pleased to see the award go to someone so deserving.
“Mick took away the win, like the champion he is,” said Nathan Powell, an apprentice sparkie from the Northern Territory.
READ MORE: TAFE: A fundamental cornerstone
Having spent the week in Sydney with the finalists from around the country, Nathan agreed they all would have been happy if any of them had won.
“After you get you to know the finalists, you start to wonder why you’re there,” he said.
“You know your story, when you hear other stories you like ‘Holy smokes!’”
But Nathan is selling himself short, having spent 12 years on the police force before picking up a new set of tools.
“I always wanted to be a sparkie. I needed the change at the age of 37,” he said, adding how he now gets regular calls from former colleagues about making the career jump.
“I’ve actually got coppers ringing me,” he said about the change of pace. “This job is great – you don’t have to take it home with you.”
WA Electrical Apprentice of the Year Megan Feaver said she was “absolutely, completely surprised” by her win and was even more shocked about having to get up and deliver a speech to a crowd.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said.
Megan is now looking ahead to the opportunities the award has opened up, like engaging with apprentices at Western Power through a new mentoring system and even speaking at an upcoming NECA event.
“It’s put me outside my comfort zone, and I’m using the opportunities for personal growth,” Megan said.
“It’s made me realise that hard work pays off. I’ve put in some hard yards over the years.”
That same attitude was what won it for Mick in the end.
“I knuckled down and got on it,” Mick said about taking on a second apprenticeship when he had three kids under six and a wife working full time.
Mick said it was his story of adversity and strength that won the judges over.
"I thought the interview went well," he said. "I left everything on the table and really connected with the judges."
Mick said the judges thought his story was “genuine, but I called it unprepared”.
With his apprenticeship finished, Mick will stay involved with the Snowy Hydro apprentice steering committee to keep young workers engaged and setting goals, just as he did throughout his training.
“I took more satisfaction out helping young blokes, seeing their scores improve, rather than my own,” he said.