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School-based automotive apprentice wins at Victorian Training Awards

Kangan Institute’s marine mechanics whizz Joachim Lopez-Valoa has been named Victoria’s top school-based apprentice for 2023.

The Victorian School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year award was presented at the 69th Victorian Training Awards held last Friday, with Joachim set to represent Victoria at the 2023 Australian Training Awards later this year.

Kangan Institute, along with Bendigo TAFE, was also recognised as one of three finalists in the Victorian Large Training Provider of the Year.

A love for the water and problem solving was what brought Victorian School-based Apprentice of the Year Joachim Lopez-Valoa into the world of marine mechanics.

“I love taking things apart, trying to understand them, how they work and reassembling them,” Joachim said.

“Problem solving is also another fun aspect as it requires me to utilise all of the knowledge I have learned so far.

“Additionally, one of my favourite things about being a marine mechanic is when I am around water, whether it is testing engines in the test tank or water testing boats at the lake.”

The Kangan Institute Certificate III in Marine Mechanical Technology (AUR30520) student, who is also completing Year 12 at Cranbourne Secondary College, said it was an honour to be announced Victoria’s top school-based apprentice.

“I feel honoured to have won the award and to represent the state of Victoria,” Joachim said.

“It is awesome to be running for nationals as I get to see my hard work pay off and that, for me, really is the best feeling.”

Currently employed at Mercury Marine Australia, the 18-year-old said undertaking a school-based apprenticeship has enabled him to gain practical skills for his desired career.

“I chose to do a school-based apprenticeship to get real experience in a workshop. Doing practical tasks really enforces what you have learnt and really embeds it in your brain,” Joachim said.

“My future plans from doing this course would be to get fully qualified and become a full-time marine mechanic.”

Kangan Institute’s Chief Executive Officer Sally Curtain said Joachim is an inspiration for young people who are interested in a hands-on career path.                          

“School-based apprenticeships are a terrific option for young people who love working with their hands and are keen on getting a head-start in industry,” Sally said.

“Joachim’s passion for the trade, combined with his resilience and commitment to education, at both TAFE and secondary school levels, is incredibly inspiring to all of us at Kangan Institute.

“The annual Victorian Training Awards is an important celebration of vocational education and training here in Victoria and we congratulate all the winners and finalists who were recognised at the event.

“We’re proud to have been able to play a role in Joachim’s success and wish him all the best for the nationals.”

This latest apprentice win follows strong results at last year’s Victorian and Australian training awards, which saw Kangan Institute, along with Bendigo TAFE, named Victorian and Australian Large Training Provider of the Year for 2022.

Apprentices from both TAFEs have maintained a strong track record at the state awards, reaching the finals five years in a row. This year saw hairdressing apprentice Tia Webb (Bendigo TAFE) recognised as a finalist for Victorian Apprentice of the Year, alongside community services graduate Pinar Teker (Bendigo TAFE) who was recognised as a Vocational Student of the Year finalist.

Presented by the Victorian Skills Authority, the 2023 Victorian Training Awards celebrated the achievements of individuals, employers and training organisations across 14 categories.

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