Our Students

Richelle Magro

Melbourne Polytechnic graduate and painter and decorator, Richelle Magro was apprehensive about swapping a career in retail for a trade in the construction industry. She needn’t have worried. Since finishing her Melbourne Polytechnic course, she’s won the 2010 Master Builders Victorian Apprentice of the Year Award and started a successful business.

Four years ago Reservoir resident Richelle Magro decided to give up her career in retail and learn a trade. “I wanted to be outdoors. But I wanted to do something that I would be ok with physically.” To get her foot in the door, Richelle got a job at Women@Work Painters and began her apprenticeship. One year on from finishing her course at Melbourne Polytechnic , the 34-year-old is running a successful painting and decorating business.

In June, she was awarded the 2010 Master Builders Victorian Apprentice of the Year for Painting and Decorating. The award couldn’t have come at a better time for Richelle who had just started her business. Since finishing her Certificate III in General Construction (Painting and Decorating) in December 2009, clients have been lining up to have her revamp their homes. “At first I was a bit worried I wouldn’t get any work. When I won the award there was an article in the local paper, and that turned out to be a big door opener. Since then I get a lot of calls. People have even been ringing the MBA to get my number!”

Any fears she had about working in a male-dominated industry were unfounded. “I had no reason to be worried. A lot of people think it’s a male-dominated area but there were three women on my TAFE course. There was a woman brickie onsite with me yesterday. Slowly more women are getting into it. All you’ve got to do is get in there, do your work and give it a go.”

She says the training at Melbourne Polytechnic allowed her to practice new skills. “There weren’t a lot of feature walls, wallpapering or marbling needed on sites and I got to do all that at TAFE,” she says. She also appreciated the opportunity to meet others working in the industry. “It was really great for networking. I wouldn’t have half the work I do now otherwise.”

For Richelle, decorating has turned out to be the ideal career. “I love it. You’re outdoors a lot. I’m always on different job sites,” she says. It’s also very rewarding. “On this job you can see what you’ve achieved at the end of the day. You look back and think I’ve done that and it looks good,” she says.


Certificate III in General Construction (Painting and Decorating)