Ben Williams says he didn’t love high school and it didn’t love him, but that has not stopped him becoming a star apprentice.
The Nelligen 22-year-old has been named 2018 Outstanding Apprentice in the ACT in Engineering Fabrication – Metals Light – for the Construction Industry Training Council.
“I was in the lowest classes at school,” the Canberra Institute of Technology student said. “The only classes I enjoyed were engineering and construction.”
Loving grandparents Bob and June Williams and farm life made all the difference to this “hands-on” kid.
“My grandfather got me to go to one of his friend’s workshops on a weekend,” Ben said. “I would weld bits of metal when I was 12 or 13.
“I have always been super hands-on. I spent most of my time with my grandfather on the farm, tinkering.”
When he landed an apprenticeship with Ben Catto at Vision Windows and Railing, Batemans Bay, his new boss set him a challenge.
“He said, ‘I hope, through my training, you can achieve an award like I did when I was an apprentice’,” Ben said.
“I got the award he got. I strove really hard to be the best I could be at TAFE and get an award. I did three years of TAFE in about two years.”
He undertook a Certificate 3 in light metal engineering and fabrication.
“I love it,” he said. “It is very hands-on. I don’t enjoy sitting down doing theoretical stuff. I like to make things that are nice and I really enjoy coming out with high-quality work.”
He also loves customers’ reactions.
“I want to thank Ben (Catto) and (teacher) Evan Street for putting up with me and giving me the opportunity to do something with myself,” he said.
“I want to thank my grandparents for always helping with everything.”
Vision administrator Moira Catto said the award showed kids from the bush could excel without leaving town.
“You don’t have to move to the city to make something of yourself,” she said.
Mr Catto is one proud boss.
He said his apprentice put in “maximum effort”.
“He never complains. He puts his heart and soul in and he is very proud of what he achieves in his work.
“He wants to do the best he can. He takes a lot of pride in what he does. He wants to achieve a high standard of manufacturing.
“When I took Ben on, I could see the energy in him and his keenness. He wanted to be there, wanted to work, wanted to make something of himself.
“I told him, ‘there is one rule; I am not sending you there (TAFE) unless you come out with an award. If I give you this, you make the most of the opportunity.’”
Mr Catto is glad to have helped Ben aim high.
“You only get out what you put in,” he said.
“Things don’t come straight away, you have to start at the bottom and the more effort you put him, the more you get out of it. I am happy I have taught him that.
“We are just super proud of him. With Ben, I hit the jackpot.”