For three years, Michael Edwards made a weekly four-hour round trip for his electrical apprenticeship studies at TAFE NSW in Wagga.
The Corryong dad’s dedication was recognised with the title of NSW Apprentice of the Year in Sydney last week.
Mr Edwards left his job as a mechanic to work in cloud seeding for Snowy Hydro Limited and is now a maintenance technician for the company, nine years on.
“As a mechanic, you learn a lot of problem-solving skills and that helped in cloud seeding,” he said.
“We did the maintenance for the generators that make snow for the catchments Snowy Hydro uses for their power stations.”
Cloud seeding involves the introduction of a seeding agent into suitable clouds to encourage the formation and growth of ice crystals or raindrops.
Mr Edwards said the work was enjoyable but he was eager to pursue a career as an electrician and looked forward to doing further studies.
“When the chance came up to do an apprenticeship, I took it,” he said.
“We had three kids under six when I started studies and was doing four-hour round trips, so it was a juggling act.
“I gained a lot of satisfaction in helping the younger blokes as they went through the course.”
The 39-year-old didn’t expect in the slightest to win over the six finalists in his category at the awards in Sydney last week, which now progresses him to the national finals in November.
“They were really quality candidates; one was a baker who had won medals and another had won a Golden Guitar for music,” he said.
“It’s never too late to take on an apprenticeship if you’re determined, and the awards recgonised that.
“I had a really great relationship with the TAFE teachers and appreciate the support from my family.”
TAFE NSW students, teachers and industry partnerships claimed nine of the 14 awards on offer at the Training Services NSW event, including Vocational Student of the Year, Apprentice of the Year, Large Training Provider of the Year and VET Teacher of the Year.