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Inspirational win at general manager's apprentice of the year awards

Mehdi Alizada fled his home country of Afghanistan at just 15. Now, he's an award-winning plumbing apprentice making the most of his new life in Australia.

By TAFE Queensland

Plumbing apprentice Mehdi Alizada has been awarded the prestigious General Manager’s Apprentice of the Year Award at the first annual TAFE Queensland - SkillsTech Apprentice Awards Night. The award recognises those who have shown exceptional achievement in the face of adversity.

Mehdi is an inspiration, having accomplished so much since he fled deteriorating conditions in his home country of Afghanistan. When he arrived in Australia at just 15-years-of-age he was alone and didn't speak any English. But when he started school in Australia in Year 10, Mehdi was determined to find his feet and start a new life for himself.

Completing additional English classes after school, Mehdi started a job at Dominos whilst he searched for more sustainable employment. He sought advice from TAFE Queensland - SkillsTech careers guidance officers and began studying a Certificate I in Construction (CPC10111). Having developed an interest in plumbing Mehdi then began cold-calling plumbing companies. His persistence payed off, first getting work experience and then an apprenticeship with Brisbane-based plumbing company Jackson Trade Services.

The award was presented by TAFE Queensland – SkillsTech Acting General Manager, John Tucker and local member for Bancroft, Chris Whiting in front of Mehdi's peers and colleagues.

Mehdi was honoured to be recognised and thanked TAFE Queensland and his employer for all their support.

"I’m very happy about winning the General Manager’s Apprentice of the Year award," Mehdi said. 

"It’s been really good working at Jackson Trade Services. I want to thank my boss Michael and his wife Michelle, they have really helped me out through this apprenticeship. I have been able to learn a lot; they are very helpful and a great employer," he said. 

Mehdi also thanked the Lighthouse Club Australia who sponsored the award and contributed to his $250 gift card. Milwaukee, the event’s major sponsor, were also so inspired by Mehdi’s story that they donated a Milwaukee six-piece tool kit worth $1,500. Milwaukee Vocational Training Specialist, Daniel Ventieri said they really wanted to give Mehdi something that could help him kick start his plumbing career.

"We were so inspired by Mehdi’s story and what he has overcome that we wanted to get involved," Daniel said. 

The Apprentice Awards Night celebrates training excellence and the achievement of future tradespeople across 13 unique award categories. This year’s nominees were selected from over 9,000 apprentices across carpentry, plumbing, electrotechnology, refrigeration and air conditioning, manufacturing and engineering, heavy commercial vehicle, mobile plant and diesel fitting, light automotive, construction and furnishing trade areas.

TAFE Queensland - SkillsTech General Manager John Tucker said Mehdi was an extremely deserving winner of the award and he was excited to see what the future holds for him.

"Mehdi is a humble and an inspiring young man. His passion and ambition to build a successful trade career is really admirable. He is a role model to other young apprentices.

"It was absolute honour to be able to present Mehdi with the General Manager’s Apprentice of the Year award, I cannot think of a more deserving candidate.

"The TAFE Queensland - SkillsTech Apprentice Awards are about recognising and honouring those who have made significant achievements in their field, which is exactly what Mehdi has accomplished."