Trades trio win regional builder awards

Three Bendigo TAFE carpentry apprentices have received top honours at the recent Master Builders Association of Victoria Bendigo Apprentice of the Year Awards.

Emmie Banfield - Apprentice of the Year Bendigo, Developing Leader Award
Vincent McLindon - Bendigo Chairperson’s Award
Alex Thwaites - Shortlisted for Master Builders Victoria Inspiration Award

Award winning carpentry apprentice Emmie Banfield was studying Year 12 when she was inspired by tv show The Block to try her hand at carpentry – a path completely new to the secondary schooler who had been studying mainstream subjects.  

“Through school I didn’t do woodwork or hands on subjects, but I always had a creative mind and wanted to be doing things,” said Emmie.

“I love watching The Block and it inspired me to want to do an apprenticeship.

“I thought one day I’d like to do that in the future, either be on The Block or purchase a house a renovate it on the weekends.”

With her parents, Emmie came up with a plan to get her foot in the door, starting with work experience at Adrian Basset Homes.

“Whenever I had a pupil free day or school holidays I would go and work with Adrian,” Emmie said.

“After I finished Year 12 I started my carpentry apprenticeship. I think Adrian saw that I was passionate about what I was doing and that I was really motivated so he was willing to give me a go.”

As the only female on many worksites, Emmie said it was a bit daunting at first.

“Because there’s not many women in the workforce I was a bit nervous to begin with, but I got over that once I started working. I’m in an environment where the boys don’t see any different – they accept me as the female that I am,” Emmie said.

Her advice to young women considering a trade apprenticeship is to find a good employer.

“Even if you don’t find the right fit at first, keep trying. You might be worried there’s not many girls on the worksite but trust me, it’s worth it if you love it!

“Doing an app (apprenticeship) you are learning on the job. So if you learn better by doing things, an apprenticeship is such a good option. It allows you to earn money and work while getting your qualification.”

Today Emmie is thriving in her role as a qualified carpenter after completing her apprenticeship at Bendigo TAFE.

“I love that every day is different. My boss has been teaching me to quote jobs so I’ve been in the office the past few weeks doing estimates, I’ve also had the chance to be involved in a panel discussion at a school,” said Emmie.

“My employer Adrian has been nothing short of amazing, he’s supported me from the start.

“Mum loves my new job as she gets a lot more done around the house. Both my parents are proud of me for pursuing this.

In addition to her Master Builders Association of Victoria accolade, Emmie was recently recognised for her efforts at the Bendigo TAFE Industry Excellence Awards, winning Apprentice of the Year: Carpentry and Outstanding Woman in Trade: Apprentice of the Year.

The Bendigo region apprentice award winners will attend the Master Builders Association of Victoria overall Victorian State Apprentice of the Year Awards in May.


Emmie (pictured) is one of three Bendigo TAFE students to be recognised at the Master Builders Association of Victoria's Regional Apprentice of the Year (Bendigo) Awards.

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