Three Gippsland apprentices have been honoured for the quality of their work at Master Builders Victoria’s Regional Apprentice of the Year Awards.

Mature age apprentice Leigh Mirams from Heyfield was awarded the Gippsland Chairperson’s Award at a celebration last night (Thursday, February 23) at De Grandi’s Winery in Traralgon, which was attended by more than 100 guests.

Employed by Newry Painting Services and nominated by TAFE Gippsland, the judges in this year’s awards said Leigh’s dedication to his trade was very evident, noting he loves restoring something old and “a little buggered” back to its former glory.

“Leigh’s problem-solving skills and strong work ethic have helped propel him through his apprenticeship. Whilst mentoring others, Leigh has demonstrated great patience and leadership skills when imparting his wisdom onto those around him,” the judges commented.

Master Builders Victoria CEO (Interim) Michaela Lihou said “Leigh is a fine example of the success which mature age apprentices can achieve in our industry. After starting out his working life as a marine mechanic, Leigh has seen the wonderful career pathway opportunities which exist in the building industry. By using his existing skill sets, he has repurposed these to successfully transition into a new and exciting career within construction.”

Looking to the future, Leigh says he wants to own his own business and is keen to continue developing his skills and expanding his business management knowledge.

Apprentices were judged on their preparation and presentation, work experience, knowledge and career plans, attitude on and about the job and industry representation by a panel of industry judges.

Emmet Dempsey from Wonthaggi took home the Gippsland Apprentice of the Year Future Builder Award.

Nominated by his training provider, Murray Mallee Training Company and employed by Chenery, Emmet has been described as a passionate cabinet maker, who loves building high quality cabinets in family homes.

“After undertaking woodwork in high school, Emmet worked hard to utilise his hands-on skills during his apprenticeship. We were impressed with Emmet’s infectious passion and goals to expand his skill set and continue learning post-apprenticeship,” the judges noted.

Looking ahead, Emmet says he’s excited to develop his leadership skills through communication and delegation within the younger team members on site.

The final award of the night, the Gippsland Apprentice of the Year – Developing Leader Award – was awarded to Jamie Dixon from Pakenham. Jamie is employed by Thorwestern Cabinets and was nominated for the award by the Murray Mallee Training Company.

The judges noted that Jamie had demonstrated great courage during his apprenticeship when faced with significant challenges.

“Jamie has a passion for the aesthetic design of cabinetry and finds pride in a job well finished. As a mature-aged apprentice, Jaimie has fitted seamlessly into the onsite leadership team, to help develop his own skills alongside those of younger co-workers,” the judges said.

MBV CEO (Interim) Michaela Lihou congratulated Leigh, Emmet and Jamie on their awards, noting the strength of this year’s nominations.

“It’s a great accolade for the building and construction industry that we continue to see such talented apprentices building their futures with us,” she said.

Others Gippsland apprentices nominated for the awards received a Certificate of Merit in the following trades:

  • Bricklaying/Blocklaying
  • Cabinet Making
  • Carpentry
  • Glass and Glazing
  • Painting and Decorating
  • Wall and Ceiling Lining

The Gippsland winners will go on to the overall Victorian State Apprentice of the Year Awards being held at Marvel Stadium, on May 11, 2023.