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Ballet dancer turned automotive apprentice wins top award

Keystar Autoworld light vehicle automotive apprentice, Jonas Bellamy, was named the prestigious General Manager’s Apprentice of the Year at the 2021 TAFE Queensland – SkillsTech Apprentice Awards.

Held at the W Hotel in Brisbane’s CBD, the night celebrated the outstanding achievements of 37 apprentices who were selected as finalists from over 9,000 TAFE Queensland – SkillsTech apprentices across 13 award categories and trade areas including carpentry, plumbing, electrotechnology, refrigeration and air conditioning, manufacturing and engineering, heavy commercial vehicle, heavy commercial industries, light automotive, construction and furnishing.

Twenty-two year old Jonas said he was proud of his achievement and that he was incredibly grateful to be recognised amongst so many other worthy finalists.

“I’m in shock. It’s an honour to have my hard work recognized. You don’t often get shown much appreciation as a mechanic when your just under cars doing your job all day – it’s a nice feeling,” Jonas said.

Jonas’ TAFE Queensland teacher, Justin Allen nominated him for the award and said Jonas is inspirational and a top notch mechanic who always gives his best.

“Nothing will stop Jonas, what more can I say. His determination and resilience is second to none,” Mr Allen said.

“Jonas is a true inspiration to others and a perfect example of how if you put your mind to something, you can achieve it - no matter what!” he said.

Jonas has quite a diverse career background having previously pursued a career as a pre-professional contemporary ballet dancer before he succumbed to an agonising ankle injury. But it was his love of working with his hands and interest in mechanics that saw him divert to a career in the light automotive industry.

Jonas has even been able to apply some of the skill sets he learnt as a professional dancer to his new career.

“Being a dancer requires you to be a perfectionist and it’s the same with cars; you strive for perfection because you can’t make a mistake,” Jonas said.

“Once I got a job as an apprentice in the automotive field I couldn't have been happier. I got the hands-on job I’ve always wanted,” he said.

Jonas has had some additional hurdles to overcome during his studies and is open about being a person who is living with dyslexia and ADHD.

Jonas said his experience at TAFE Queensland has been both a challenge and a blessing.

“I have excelled in my practical work and thoroughly enjoyed learning from my TAFE Teachers, but have struggled with the theory-side of my training due to my dyslexia and ADHD. Thankfully my classmates and teachers have been a huge support and have each played a significant role in helping me to improve my reading and writing skills,” Jonas said.

“Throughout my life I have been knocked back for opportunities and misjudged due to my dyslexia and ability to read and write. People often mistake my dyslexia for laziness or my ADHD as lack of ability to complete a task, and it’s completely wrong.

“It’s taken its toll on me both mentally and emotionally, but it’s also made me more resilient and determined to prove that I can accomplish things and completing my qualification and securing a long-term stable career will mean the world to me,” he said.

TAFE Queensland – SkillsTech General Manager, John Tucker said that the awards night is a great opportunity to showcase the excellent training outcomes and success that our apprentices continue to make in their chosen industries.

“The recognition apprentices receive from not only TAFE Queensland but also their employers, colleagues and industry really helps to boost confidence and encourage our young tradespeople to take the next step in achieving their career goals,” Mr Tucker said.

Jonas and his employer have also been able to take advantage of the Queensland Government’s Free apprenticeships for under 25s initiative which means that any training fees associated with Jonas’s apprenticeship training are free.