Certificate III in Plumbing

Don’t be afraid to take up a trade

Earning while learning. It’s a valuable pathway to success, says Donald Dundas, who hails from the small country town of Coonabarabran.

Donald gained his Certificate III in Plumbing through TAFE NSW New England in Tamworth. He says vocational educational training (VET) pathway through an Australian Apprenticeship allowed him to study theory while gaining the hands-on experience essential for his career as a plumber.

‘You can read all the text books you want, but practical experience makes you confident. VET allows you to hit the books and gain real skills. It delivers on both ends,’ says Donald, who continued his studies, a Certificate IV in Plumbing.

Life took a turn for Donald when labouring for a building company. He worked alongside two plumbers who recognised his talent and recommended an Australian Apprenticeship. As soon as one became available, Donald grabbed it, knowing he wanted to get the qualifications for his chosen career and eventually own his own business.

Donald took to plumbing like a duck to water. ‘I was signed off 12 months early from my four-year apprenticeship, which was a big achievement,’ says Donald. ‘I was over the moon and moved into a full-time plumber’s role with Warrumbungle Shire Council.’

Donald was also over the moon when he won the 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award at the Australian Training Awards.

‘My TAFE NSW teacher nominated me,’ says Donald. ‘He had confidence in me, and got me out of my comfort zone but was always there to help me reach my potential.’

‘My apprenticeship was worth every ounce of effort’, says Donald. ‘I had to travel down the track for 2 and a half hours every few weeks for TAFE, but if you have the will and are determined you can achieve whatever you want. You make mistakes but learn from them. It can be tough but if you knuckle down, you’ll get there.’

There’s no doubt in Donald’s mind that VET is as valuable as university.

‘You can make great money in the trades and get a job quickly. I know people who studied for five years at uni and struggled to find work,’ says Donald.

Donald’s Australian Apprenticeship has also taught him to lead by example. As a member of the VET Alumni, he wants to inspire others to take up a trade.

‘I want to speak to regional and country people like myself to let them know what VET offers and tell them not to be afraid to take up an apprenticeship,’ says Donald. ‘There’s positive people around to help you; people to talk to and people to help with your self-development.’

To find out more about how you can gain real skills for a real career through a vocational education and training qualification, visit www.myskills.gov.au

If you are interested in an Australian Apprenticeship and how to get started, download An Australian Apprenticeship - Endless Career Possibilities brochure or contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

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