Melinda’s path to national glory

Melinda Jeffery (nee Lethbridge) always had a fascination for hands-on work, but felt obliged to pursue a tertiary pathway.

After gaining work experience at Hargo Engineering, she decided that an Australian Apprenticeship in fitting and machining was a better option.

She enrolled in a Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade at Swinburne University of Technology and commenced her Australian Apprenticeship at Hargo Engineering the day after completing her school exams.

“I started Year 12 aiming for a scholarship in mechatronics and took up a very academic study load, but I realised I needed a balance of practical work as well as theoretical challenges,” Melinda said.

“I remembered my work experience at a manufacturer and how that career suited my needs.

“With cooperation from my school and my employer, I completed my Year 12 certificate while working part time in the industry, and then started my Australian Apprenticeship the day after my final exam.”

As a qualified fitter and turner, Melinda won a gold medal in turning at WorldSkills Australia’s Melbourne Region competition in 2013 going on to compete at the 2014 WorldSkills Australia National Competition.  She again won gold at the 2015 Melbourne Region Competition and won a gold for turning at the 2016 WorldSkills Australia National Competition.

In 2014, she was awarded the Australian Apprentice of the Year Award at the Australian Training Awards and became an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador for the Australian Government.

“Undertaking an Australian Apprenticeship was a really positive experience,” she said.

“The self-paced learning built into the training allowed me to move quickly through content that came easily to me, and take the time to fully understand concepts that I struggled with.

“An Australian Apprenticeship is an awesome opportunity to learn and earn.

“There are so many benefits to this training pathway.

“It can often open many doorways that you don’t expect. For example I visited China in March 2016 to celebrate International Woman’s Day and to promote Australia’s training system.”

Melinda has completed a Certificate IV in Engineering and plans to undertake further training in how to teach and train in the workplace.

Ultimately, Melinda wants to contribute to the quality of Australian Apprenticeships by partnering more effectively with off-the-job training and continue learning and increasing her skills in cutting edge machining techniques.

To see Melinda at work, watch The Fitter and Machinist: Melinda's Story.

Download the Melinda Jeffery - Australian Apprentice of the Year fact sheet.

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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