Three Victoria University (VU) Polytechnic carpentry apprentices from the Geelong area have swept the 2021 Master Builders Victoria Apprentice of the Year southwest region awards.
Aron Hutchison of Armstrong Creek, Jake Tomlinson of Highton, and Otto Opperman of Ocean Grove, each took out top awards as outstanding up-and-coming chippies at the recent award’s night.
While Victoria University’s TAFE division, VU Polytechnic, is better known for its trades training in Werribee and Sunshine, the three Geelong-area apprentices are studying closer to home at VU Polytechnic facilities at the Geelong Industry Trades Training Centre in Corio.
He chose a meandering route to carpentry, completing a sport and exercise degree first, then working in a corporate role as an injury assessor in the work-safe industry.
But only a week after his mother passed away, he quit his job to start a carpentry apprenticeship when he realised he should be working at something he loved.
“I took a pay cut to work as a carpenter, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Jake, who works for the Surf Coast-based Doherty Building Group and is completing a Certificate III in Carpentry, won the Geelong Employer-Nominated Apprentice of the Year.
Jake also sampled a few other careers – including that of a forensic chemist and a plasterer – before he settled on being a carpenter-builder, the same job as his father.
“Carpentry gives me a sense of pride because everyone can see what I put together and create.”
Otto, who works for green building specialists Econstructions and is completing a Certificate III in Carpentry, took out the Geelong Chairperson’s Award.
His initial entry to the building and construction industry was as a building surveyor, but he quickly swapped to carpentry when he realised surveying wasn’t quite for him.
“Building surveying gave me a good starting point, but I enjoy creating and finishing products. I see my carpentry apprenticeship as a stepping stone to getting a builders’ licence,” he said.
The Master Builders Victoria annual apprenticeship awards honour the outstanding achievements of Victorian apprentices in the building and construction industry who demonstrate exceptional craftsmanship, show commitment to building excellence, and uphold professional standards.