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SWTAFE apprentice wins Victorian title

New mum and Victoria’s new Apprentice of the Year Shona McGuigan hopes her success inspires others to follow in her footsteps of choosing a non-traditional trade.
Shona McGuigan working with cri-tech plumbing

The South West TAFE student was today named by the Victorian Training Awards as Apprentice of the Year, adding to a huge week as she waits to give birth to her first child, due last Sunday.

Now Ms McGuigan hopes to inspire not only her child but others looking at trade career options.

Her success also continues South West TAFE’s golden run of accolades after it was named Victoria’s Large Training Provider of the Year earlier this week in the Victorian Training Awards and being shortlisted for the national title.

Ms McGuigan, who completed her training through South West TAFE, is the first female plumbing apprentice at Cri-tech.

She said she was shocked and honoured to receive the award.

“It’s Victoria-wide so I assumed there would be other worthy apprentices out there but I’m very honoured,” she said.

“Trades are in demand all over Australia, so it’s a good time to look at all your career options. I hope to be a role model and that’s not meant just for females working in male-dominated fields but also males looking at female-dominated areas like hairdressing.

“This shows you can have a crack at anything.”

Ms McGuigan had to overcome some sceptics to become an apprentice plumber but went on to win two VET in School awards at South West TAFE and secure a four-year apprenticeship at Cri-tech.

She says the training system can work for anyone. “I suggest everyone finish Year 12 which helps for your future and there’s also the incentive of an extra $1 an hour payment in your apprenticeship just for completing your schooling,” she said.

“You should never quit; always finish something you’ve started”

While on maternity leave at the moment, Ms McGuigan aims to return to work with Cri Tech as soon as practical and has long-term aims to start her own business.

“I want to be a role model for my own child and to everyone else who considers a trade career,” she said.

Ms McGuigan said she remained indebted to South West TAFE for its support.

“South West TAFE helped me realise this was the best decision of my life and they have supported and encouraged me every step of the way,” she said.

South West TAFE CEO Mark Fidge said Ms McGuigan was a worthy winner.

“Shona is an outstanding student and we couldn’t be prouder of what she has been able to achieve,” Mr Fidge said.

“She demonstrates so much in her studies and what she does in the community. She’s a fantastic mentor and role model that all young girls can aspire to be like when it comes to entering predominantly male trades.”

Shona McGuigan, named the 2020 Apprentice of the Year at the Victorian Training Awards
Shona McGuigan, named the 2020 Apprentice of the Year at the Victorian Training Awards