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A decision to give up his job to become an apprentice again has paid off for Gareth McCarthy who was recently named TasTAFE’s top automotive apprentice.

Gareth won the TACC Automotive Mechanical Trades Apprentice of the Year award at TasTAFE’s Automotive and MotorBody State-wide Awards held in Launceston recently.

The award was validation that he had made the right choice in giving up a successful career as a spray painter to return to study as a heavy vehicle mechanics apprentice.

The father of two worked as a spray painter for 15 years before deciding he wanted to diversify his trades experience by becoming a heavy vehicle mechanics apprentice. Giving up a trade to start a new apprenticeship came with financial sacrifices, but Gareth had the support of his family and says he could see the advantages.

“I decided that having multiple trades would be a great way to better myself and diversify what I was doing.”

Gareth, who is employed by Work and Training and hosted at the Devonport City Council, says he has no regrets about his decision. He loves being part of a team that look after the council’s fleet of cars, trucks and equipment.

“There are three of us in the workshop and we take care of all the vehicles and equipment as well as going out and doing things like fabrication work. There’s just that much diversity – I really enjoy it. The guys I work with are great and they make it worthwhile. When you enjoy what you do it doesn’t feel like work.”

Gareth is undertaking his Certificate III in Mobile Plant Technology (previously known as diesel fitting) at TasTAFE’s Alanvale Campus and says it complements what he is learning in the workplace, providing the opportunity to explore things in more detail.

“It’s been good. When I go there I’ve had the opportunity to pull things apart to observe the inner workings in more detail. It’s something that you don’t get the chance to do in the workplace and it’s been really beneficial.

“The TasTAFE teachers have been great. If you are interested they are really happy to go the extra mile and show you things so that you can learn more.”

Gareth was one of five finalists for the Automotive Apprentice of the Year and was selected following an interview by an independent judging panel made up of a representative from the Tasmanian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (TACC), an industry representative (this year from Motors) and an ex-TasTAFE teacher.

The judges were impressed by Gareth’s motivation to better himself and diversify his trades experience and his willingness to give up a successful job in order to further his training.

They also admired his passion for the automotive industry and ability to combine the two areas of autobody repair and heavy vehicle mechanics – both in the workplace when maintaining and repairing equipment, and at home where he is building a project car.

The judges also admired Gareth’s willingness to suggest and trial new ideas and improvements in his workplace.

Other finalists in the TACC Automotive Mechanical Trades Apprentice of the Year were:

  • Callun Mauric – Light Vehicle Mechanic
  • Malcolm Owens – Small Engines Mechanic
  • Billy McCullagh – Automotive Electrical
  • Ashlee-Kate Smith – Light Vehicle Mechanic South.

Congratulations to all of the award recipients and a big thank you to all of our fantastic industry partners who sponsor the awards.

Career change decision pays off for TasTAFE’s top automotive apprentice