Award-winner Abbey an inspiration to women in trades

An Ai Group apprentice who scooped a Women in Trades Award this week credits her apprenticeship for changing her life. 

Abbey Evans, hosted to Marand Precision Engineering, was named the winner of the Inspiration Award: Women in Trades at the Apprentice Employment Network’s (AEN) 2022 Awards in Melbourne on Wednesday night. 

The 21-year-old, in her 4th year of a Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship, was also recognised as a finalist for Apprentice of the Year

Fellow Ai Group apprentice Anthony Thomas was awarded a safety prize. 

Hosted to Hardchrome Engineering, Mr Thomas took out the STAR (Stop Taking a Risk) Award for his commitment to safety and wellbeing in the workplace. 

Ms Evans said her confidence as well as her skills had grown tremendously during her apprenticeship with the Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre (Ai Group ATC).  

“I have learnt so much over the past four years and I have completely changed as a person,” she said. 

“I have learnt to become independent and to make my own decisions without second-guessing myself. 

“During the past four years, my skillset has become more and more useful and has now reached a level where I am fully competent to work on my own without any guidance. 

“I am trusted to lead teams of people which is a great milestone.  

“When you stand back, four years later, and see all the progress you have made, it makes the hard work worth it.”

Ai Group apprentice Anthony Thomas took out the STAR (Stop Taking a Risk) Award at this week’s AEN Awards.

Mr Thomas, 23, was nominated for proactively participating in a dogging and rigging course, contributing to toolbox meetings and demonstrating all-round care and role modelling in the apprenticeship area. 

Hardchrome Production Manager Justin Dickinson acknowledged his team for supporting Mr Thomas and paid tribute to Ai Group’s Bec Tindal, Steph O’Neill and Matt Muller for their guidance. 

“We should be proud as an organisation and keep striving to improve our young guns to help them achieve greatness in their working life,” Mr Dickinson said. 

“Well done, Anthony, and keep up the great work. Set that bar even higher.” 

Mr Thomas commenced his fitter and turner apprenticeship with the Ai Group ATC in May last year.  

“When I started as an apprentice at Hardchrome, I could see immediately that they had a positive culture in the workshop and embraced continuous improvement,” he said. 

“I thought that being safe at work is a quality and attribute of a good employee, so I started to take an interest in ways we could continue building a safe workplace. We all want to go home safely from work at the end of the day.” 

Craig Hilton, the Ai Group ATC’s National Manager – Recruitment & Stakeholder Engagement, said it was fantastic that Ai Group was consistently being recognised with apprenticeship awards.  

At last year’s AEN Annual Awards, Ai Group apprentice Bryce Noble was named Apprentice of the Year.   

Most recently, another Ai Group apprentice, Peter Fontaine, was named 2022 Outstanding Apprentice of the Year at the TAFE Queensland SkillsTech Apprentice Awards.   

The AEN, which is the peak industry body representing not for profit group training organisations across Victoria, received more than 100 nominations across eight award categories.     

The Australian Industry Group is managing a project funded by Apprenticeships Victoria aimed at increasing the number of women entering apprenticeships and traineeships in STEM-related occupations. Find out more here: Women in STEM Apprenticeships and Traineeships (Victoria).