Billy Morrison always wanted a job where he was outside doing something hands-on but after qualifying as a carpenter he also enjoys having much more control over his working day.
“I was doing landscaping for a while, and I thought that was what I wanted to do, being outdoors and hands-on getting dirty, but it didn’t really thrill me that much to do it, so I decided to change. I like carpentry because you get a wide range of things to do, from new homes to extensions, decks, and renovations, that sort of thing. My boss was someone I knew from the footy club and he signed me up as an apprentice and it went from there.”
Billy spent one week out of every six on campus at Melbourne Polytechnic, and really enjoyed the time learning new skills and getting tips from his teachers. He also found the classroom environment really positive, with everyone there to learn.
“The teachers are fantastic, really approachable. Sometimes I even miss talking to the teachers a little bit — they liked talking about football and what not. I did enjoy my time there and it was good to go and get away from work for a little bit too.”
The transition from working for a good wage to being an apprentice wasn’t an easy one at times, especially with so many expensive tools to buy. But Billy, who had been living out of home since he was 17, found plenty of ways to make it work.
“I was very sceptical about doing it because I knew that the first couple of years were going to be hard with money, and living out of home was very hard. My mum did help me out where she could, and obviously you have to cut back on a few luxuries like going out and that sort of stuff, but it’s worth it in the end; now I’m making good money.”
Billy was also helped out when he was awarded an Melbourne Polytechnic study grant for being one of the top students in his course.
“It was a bit of a surprise to me! Someone rang me up and said ‘you’ve just been awarded a study grant’. It certainly helped out. I had a few more tools to buy so it was very handy.”
Now that he’s qualified, Billy is really enjoying being able to work for different people and on different types of jobs. He’s also really positive about the future of trades in Australia.
“Apprenticeships were hard to get there for a while, but I know the trades industry is picking up a little bit more now, which is obviously going to give more jobs for the young kids. It’s good that the bosses can put on young apprentices now because if younger brothers see their older brothers getting apprenticeships, they might look to that in the future.”
Billy’s advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship or studying for a qualification at Melbourne Polytechnic is simple: do it.
“I would just say get in and get the first couple of years out of the way. It might sound daunting but get in and get the first couple of years out of the way and then it’s pretty much all up from there. It’s good money and a qualification you’re going to have for life. Once you’ve got that certificate, if you want to have a couple of years off after and go and do something else, you can always come back to your trade.”
Certificate III in Carpentry