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Women in trades star at Apprentice Awards

Plumbing & Gas Fitting Apprentice of the Year Jenny Kirk (pictured) was among a number of female apprentices recognised as one of the top in their trade at the 2022 TAFE Queensland - SkillsTech Apprentice Awards on 10 November.

Several women in trades were recognised as one of the top apprentices in their trade at the 2022 TAFE Queensland - SkillsTech Apprentice Awards on November 10.

The event saw the award for Apprentice of the Year presented to winners from many unique trade categories across the construction, manufacturing, automotive, and utilities industries. There were also awards for the General Manager's and Outstanding Apprentices of the Year and awards for the Small and Large Employers of the Year.

Women in trades were part of the top three finalists awarded on the night in the Furnishing Trades, Construction, Painting & Decorating, Plumbing & Gas Fitting, Electrical, and School-based Apprentice of the Year categories. There were also female finalists in the two marquee awards, the General Manager's and Outstanding Apprentices of the Year.

Four of these women would go on to be crowned the top performing apprentice in their trade, taking out the Construction, Painting & Decorating, Plumbing & Gas Fitting, and School-based Apprentice of the Year awards.

Ashlee Carter, a second-year apprentice studying a Certificate III in Wall and Ceiling Lining (CPC31220) took out the Construction Apprentice of the Year award sponsored by CBUS Super.

Ashlee Carter receives her certificate on stage.

Ashlee's employer, Darren McGrath of Superior Walls & Ceilings, nominated her for the award, saying that she "is exceeding all expectations of her work colleagues, Site Foreman, and management."

Ashlee herself said she has enjoyed advocating for women in trade careers and promoting the benefits of an apprenticeship to other young women, referring specifically to her experience as a NAWIC mentor.

"I got to tell the high-school girls about all the perks of being a tradie, especially a lady tradie; the possible roadblocks they may face in their careers, but also the highlights."

The next award presented was the Painting & Decorating Apprentice of the Year award sponsored by Dulux which went to Allyson Burrows, an Ipswich local nearing the end of her Certificate III in Painting & Decorating (CPC30620).

Allyson Burrows with category sponsors and TAFE Queensland representatives.

Allyson's TAFE Queensland teacher, Billy Hazeldine, nominated her for this year's award, saying "she absorbs everything around her and picks up training quickly. Her abilities are the result of dedication and persistence in her training."

Allyson referenced joining the construction industry as one of the best decisions she has ever made, saying "since being a part of this community I have found myself and become much more confident and motivated."

"I never considered doing a trade as an option through school but I have found my passion in this industry and I am quite the hands-on person now. I am beyond grateful for this experience and I am so excited to see what the future brings."

The third female winner on the night was Jenny Kirk, a mature-aged apprentice studying a Certificate III in Plumbing (CPC32420) who took out the Plumbing & Gas Fitting Apprentice of the Year award sponsored by Reece.

Jenny Kirk accepts her award.

Already a mother when she started her apprenticeship, Jenny Kirk said she hopes to set an example for young women looking into trade careers, especially her daughter.

"I want my daughter to see that if she wants to work within the construction field that is ok and normal," she said.

She also made clear her intentions to continue to study with TAFE Queensland following her apprenticeship in post-trade training.

"I would like to further my training and broaden my knowledge by completing my Certificate IV in Plumbing through TAFE Queensland."

"Hopefully I will be in a position where I can help and support other aspiring female apprentices into the plumbing industry."

The final female winner of the night was Hailey Dicker, named the School-based Apprentice of the Year, as sponsored by MAS National, due to her outstanding skill-level and commitment to her high-school and apprenticeship study.

Hailey Dicker with her category's sponsor and TAFE Queensland representative.

Hailey's employer, Barney Dunn at Barcat Fabrication said the Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade (MEM30319) apprentice had achieved above and beyond in her apprenticeship so far.

"I can say without hesitation that Hailey is by far the best employee I have ever hired in my long, long career and she is extremely deserving of being recognised for an award."

Hailey spoke very highly of TAFE Queensland's training, saying "my experience training with TAFE Queensland has been absolutely fantastic."

"When I went on campus to Acacia Ridge, all the staff were very helpful and kind. Also the training facilities and courses they offer are amazing."

"I would recommend to other people to start their future with TAFE Queensland."

Made possible by trade industry sponsors led by Main Event Sponsor Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ), the event was held at Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane City and welcomed almost 360 guests, more than 200 of which were finalists and their associated employers and guests.

The four female Apprentice of the Year winners are examples of the high-calibre apprentices TAFE Queensland is known for producing and the organisation's commitment to supporting female trade students as best possible.