Swinburne carpentry apprentice, Steven Jeffery, has been announced as a finalist in two categories of 2016 Victorian Training Awards: Victorian Apprentice of the Year and Community Choice Awards.
Steven, who completed a Certificate III in Carpentry and undertook his apprenticeship through his father’s business, knew from a very young age he wanted to be a builder.
“I’ve worked with my dad on projects at home and on site basically since I could walk. I love working with dad and I jumped at the chance to do my apprenticeship with him,” says Steven.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for Steven though, as he struggled in school with dyslexia.
“I found it hard to concentrate in class and my reading and writing were less than perfect. Even though it was hard, I never hid behind it or used it as an excuse to lower my standards or my commitment to work,” Steven says.
“In fact it gave me the opportunity to push past my 'limitations' and constantly improve.”
Swinburne trades teacher and mentor, Jonathan Wallace, met Steven when he started as a first year apprentice and was immediately impressed with his positive attitude and desire to learn.
“Right from the start Steven wanted to make sure he did his best, always looking for a challenge and to better himself,” says Jonathan.
Jonathan offered Steven the opportunity to travel to India and Cambodia as part of Swinburne Global Tradies, a program that enables students to volunteer their time and skills to build in developing communities overseas.
Steven was quick to accept and went on both trips. He helped raise $25,000 for building materials for a local arts centre in Kampot, Cambodia.
“The whole experience was awe inspiring and equally mind blowing. It was great to work side by side with the local tradesmen, being able to learn different building techniques,” says Steven.
“I would give anything for other apprentices to have the same opportunity. It really struck a chord within me to continue these kinds of trips in the future to use my skills and abilities to help others.”
Steven reflected on his experiences and wrote an essay that won him third prize in UNESCO’s first Skills in Action awards for young people that have used their vocational skills to help others in developing countries.
“I hope to one day run my own successful building business and train up and invest in as many apprentices as I can.”
Voting is now open for the Community Choice Award, you can vote for Steven so jump online to show your support.
The Victorian Apprentice of the Year will be announced at the Victorian Training Awards on Friday 26 August 2016.