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Hear from our apprentices

Check out these true stories from some of HIA’s award-winning apprentices:

Adam Cocks – 2015 HIA National Apprentice of the Year

Part of the new breed of builder who needs to adapt to a rapidly changing industry, the 2015 HIA National Apprentice of the Year has a thirst for knowledge and the drive to continually develop his skills.

The 32-year old industrial design graduate came late into his apprenticeship with small high-end contractor David Edkins but, if anything, that extra maturity has been an asset. ‘It gives them a bit more strength and character and they know what they want to do,’ David says.

Skills and attitude

Adam has brought a designers eye for detail and precision to his work as a carpenter in the Adelaide building industry.

Adam also completed a six-month prevocational course at TAFE before approaching David, a friend of his father.

‘Adam was approachable and a good communicator and presents really well,’ David recalls. ‘He had some skills, but really it was a combination of his attitude and the person he was.’

Adam and HIA

‘I was pretty lucky with Dave,’ Adam says, ‘his type of building is much more like the old school style. There’s nothing we really don’t do. It’s a lot to learn but at the same time it’s pretty cool.’

A self-confessed tinkerer, Adam wants to continue pursuing his interest in new technologies and sustainable design and mad materials.

Adam’s success if gratifying for a small business, David says. ‘It’s really nice that Adam was noticed, and throughout the HIA training program they monitored him fairly well. ‘Adam’s the second apprentice I’ve used through the HIA program, and the other apprentice is still with me after 12 years.’

Clayton Story, Building apprenticeship

Clayton Story took a while to get his head together after leaving school mid-way through Year 12 in Kadina, South Australia. “The only thing I really knew was that I wasn’t cut out for university study,” he says.

“I didn’t drift, but I had a number of jobs with different career prospects. I guess I was learning about myself.”

The jobs included working part-time at Woolworth’s where he was offered a position as a trainee manager. Instead he opted to work for a Vehicle Industry Certificate at Holden’s assembly plant at Elizabeth, near Adelaide.

“That was alright for a while because I was young and earning good money, but I realised I wasn’t really going anywhere”, he says. “What’s more, I wasn’t keen on a factory environment – too much like working in a shed.”

Next came a six-month bar manager’s course at Kadina TAFE and a stint in the hospitality industry, but he quickly found that “being everybody’s best mate” wasn’t his style either.

An offer though HIA

The breakthrough came when he was offered an apprenticeship by Kadina builder Trevor Smith, who became his Host Trainer under HIA Apprentices. Clayton was a bit older than most starters, but he turned out to be exactly what Trevor had been looking for.

Clayton was HIA’s South Australian Apprentice of the Year in 2004, and went on to start a career as a fully qualified tradesman. “I’ve been lucky enough to do my training with a company that handles the whole range of building processes,” he says. “I’m not breaking my neck to go out on my own, but my own company, preferably in the country, is a good long-term ambition.

Sam Booth, Carpentry apprenticeship

Sam Booth hung in to complete Year 12 at school, but somehow he always knew his future was with carpentry, woodwork and building things.

“Even when I was young I used to work with family friends who were builders - and I have always wanted to end up owning my own business,” he says. “It just seemed the natural thing to become a carpenter.”

Great support from HIA

HIA’s Victorian Apprentice of the Year for 2004, Sam worked for the same Host Trainer throughout his apprenticeship and still does sub-contracts for him as a qualified tradesman. He says that doing his training through HIA was great. “They were always there as back-up, someone to talk to if you needed it.”

He’s happy to recommend a trade career to young people wondering what to do after school and has given talks to Year 10 groups.

Not in a hurry

He seems to be in no hurry about taking the next step. One possibility is to strike out on his own, probably in partnership with his younger brother, Darren, now in the third year of his carpentry apprenticeship under HIA Apprentices.

“I studied in my own time during my apprenticeship and got the additional qualifications necessary for registration as a builder in my own right,” he says. “But right now I’m developing my trade skills, learning more about the building industry, and getting used to taking on more responsibility.”

“I think I’d like to concentrate on new homes, doing renovations and alterations as well. I guess the ultimate aim is to head a fairly big company - I certainly like the idea of being my own boss.”

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