Croydon-based turner Melinda Lethbridge has been recognised as Apprentice of the Year by Swinburne University of Technology.
Ms Lethbridge, 21, completed her Certificate III in Engineering Mechanical Trade at Swinburne’s Croydon campus and now works as a Fitter and Machinist at Hargo Engineering based in Croydon.
“I began my apprenticeship the day after my final VCE exam. I’ve always been fascinated with how things work and found that an apprenticeship in Fitting and Machining provided a good balance between mental challenges and hands on work,” Ms Lethbridge said.
Ms Lethbridge considered several trade opportunities throughout her schooling however it was a taste of work experience in Year 10 at Hargo Engineering which sparked her interest in the turning industry.
Working within what is predominately a male dominated trade, Ms Lethbridge said she is passionate about the promotion of apprenticeships in manufacturing as a career pathway, especially for young women.
“Through the Australian Industry Group of which Hargo is a part of, I was invited to become a Young Industry ambassador. This program gave me the chance to visit schools to give talks to teenage girls about their career pathways, which was an opportunity I really enjoyed.”
In December last year Ms Lethbridge placed first in the regional finals of World Skills Australia and will represent Melbourne later this year, competing at the national level in Perth.
“My apprenticeship was an important step in my learning, but in no way the end. In an ever changing industry I feel it’s important to be constantly learning.
“I’m currently training to fine tune my skills for the national stage in September. This an exciting chance for me as winning this competition could see me representing the Australian manufacturing industry internationally as well as opening doors for my career.”
Ms Lethbridge has also been nominated for Victorian Apprentice of the Year.