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Nick Duffy knew early on heading straight to a traditional office job upon leaving school was not for him. He wanted to be outside, doing something hands on.

Now aged twenty-one, he’s seven months from completing his Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30211) through TAFE Queensland's Bracken Ridge campus. Employed as a carpentry apprentice at award-winning Queensland design and construction company Paynters, and thanks to the Queensland Government’s ‘Free Apprenticeships for Under 25s’ initiative, both Nick and Paynters have paid nothing for his industry-current training at TAFE.

“My job at Paynters has seen me work all throughout Queensland building schools, aged care, community centres and health facilities. I do my TAFE training pretty flexibly and in four-week intensive blocks,” Nick said.

TAFE Queensland has a wide range of purpose-built facilities for all apprentices to learn the tools of the trade, offering the highest quality of training and all of the up-to-date skills and techniques required in industry.

“The teachers are great – Pete, Jamie, Phil, Jerry, and the others – they teach me useful habits and clever ways of working that help me balance study with my on-site responsibilities. They’re experienced – the majority have 25 years’ plus, and they share lots of advice which has really helped.”

“From studying at TAFE I’ve gained many other transferable business skills like good communication and the ability to problem-solve. It’s given me the confidence to run and organise my own tasks on-site with tight time frames,” he said.

‘Earning while learning’ has long been an attractive prospect for apprentices, but the Free Apprenticeships for Under 25s initiative (available to eligible students in high priority training areas such as construction, electrotechnology, nursing, childcare, and health) has also attracted significant interest from employers, who often take on the cost of apprentice training.

“Training and upskilling are an important part of ensuring our projects deliver the best results,” said Brett Johnston, Paynters’ General Manager.

“We choose to send our apprentices to TAFE Queensland because they understand our need for flexible training delivery. Commercial construction can at times be difficult to pre-plan and there are times when it’s imperative to have an apprentice on-site to learn skills first-hand. We are thankful that TAFE understands this and works around our needs to accommodate our apprentice training."

“The training facilities at TAFE Queensland are world class. They’re the industry leaders and the training facilities and equipment match both industry standard and contemporary practice, and the fact our under-25-year-old apprentices can now be expertly trained by TAFE for free – it’s obviously even more rewarding."

As for Nick’s future plans?

“Long term, my goal is to work on large-scale commercial projects and upskill myself to even higher roles within the construction industry," he said.

“Short term however - when I become qualified, I’m excited to be able to run my own jobs and projects, and to go on to complete those qualifications that require the certificate III as a pre-requisite.”

“Getting qualified is really important to me as it will give me more responsibility and the opportunity to organise materials, labour, and costs – really thinking about and getting involved in the whole job, more than just the carpentry works,” finished Nick.


Free TAFE and Apprenticeships for Under 25s is providing more young people with the chance to pursue a trade career. Through the initiative, eligible young workers up to the age of 25 are able to access fully subsidised training across a range of priority apprenticeship or traineeship qualifications.

TAFE Queensland proudly partners with industry and Government to ensure our training meets current and future employment demands. We offer flexible and tailored training solutions across more than 500 courses, and training can be delivered on site, online, in the workplace, or on campus. We give people the skills they need to enrich their communities, support their industries and strengthen their local economies.

MORE ABOUT FREE APPRENTICESHIPS FOR UNDER 25s

MORE ABOUT FREE TAFE FOR UNDER 25s

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