In Summary

  • This article originally featured in Swinburne’s Venture magazine

Carpentry / Steven Jeffrey

Carpentry apprentice Steven Jeffrey is the third Swinburne University student to be named Apprentice of the Year at the Victorian Training Awards in as many years. Now he has his sights set on the national competition in Darwin this year.

For as long as he can remember, Mr Jeffrey wanted to be a builder. He says Swinburne encouraged him to work hard, never letting his dyslexia get in the way.

“The skills and knowledge I’ve been taught have given me the confidence to challenge myself and continually push for excellence,” he says.

Mr Jeffrey says he’s honoured to have taken the title and Swinburne was behind him all the way. Now he’s looking forward to paying back a little as an ambassador for Vocational Education Training (VET).

“Swinburne has set me in good stead for a successful future,” he says. “Winning apprentice of the year three years in a row speaks for itself with Swinburne’s record.”

Horticulture / Chris Henbery

Last year’s winner, horticulture apprentice Chris Henbery, went on to compete at the national awards. He now has an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador role that takes him all over the country.

“Winning has opened up so many opportunities to meet great people, share my apprenticeship journey and hopefully inspire others to choose a career and apprenticeship they love,” he says.

Originally from London, Mr Henbery gave up a banking career to move to Melbourne in 2011 with his Australian wife and their young son. He says Swinburne gave him all the support he needed to follow his passion for horticulture.

“Swinburne offered the best facilities and subjects and had teachers with great experience and connections,” he says.

“They have a genuine desire for their students to succeed.”

Mechanical Engineering / Melinda Lethbridge

Fitter and turner Melinda Lethbridge, who began her Certificate 3 in Engineering – Mechanical Trade at Swinburne’s Wantirna campus in 2011, scooped the award in 2014. In October, she won the 2016 WorldSkills Australia competition in the fitting-and turning category. She now has the chance to compete in the international competition being held in Abu Dhabi next year.

Ms Lethbridge works for Hargo Engineering in Croydon where, these days, she’s the one leading the training. She says she would never have applied for either award without the support of Hargo and Swinburne.

“Swinburne has been behind me every step of the way, obviously through my training, but now, even three years after formally completing my studies, I’ve enjoyed ongoing support and mentoring,” she says. “Swinburne’s culture allows people to excel.”