MBA WA celebrates first female Apprentice of the Year award winner

Aly Harper
Aly Harper

A WOMAN who gave up a corporate career to start over as a carpentry apprentice is the first female Master Builders WA Apprentice of the Year in the award’s 14-year history.

Aly Harper, who studies at South Metropolitan TAFE and works for Cubic, triumphed over nine other finalists at the awards held at the Westin Perth tonight.

Judge Philip Kemp said she was the outstanding candidate in a competitive field.

“Aly is a talented, consistent and respected team player,” he said.

“She has the passion to enter into the innovative building area of carpentry and develop her skills to run a business.”

Ms Harper said she was committed to supporting women to take up apprenticeships in the construction industry.

“I started a bit later in life. I went to university and had a job and then I just thought ‘this isn’t what I want to do’ and decided to leave and become a carpenter,” she said.

“I really wanted to do something with my hands and I wanted a job where I was building something and I could see it from start to finish.

“I decided to pursue carpentry and joinery as a trade because I want to be a part of building and creating spaces that will bring people excitement and joy.

“Being involved in creating the Optus Stadium has made me extremely proud and I am reminded of that unique experience each time I hear someone talk about how amazing it is, and each day that I drive past on my way to work.

“It brings me a lot of happiness and pride to see more women entering this industry and I’m extremely grateful to be part of that.”

Master Builders executive director John Gelavis said employers in the struggling construction sector who continued to invest in the industry’s future deserved enormous credit.

“When times are tough, it’s tempting to do the work yourself rather than taking on an apprentice,” he said.

“Most employers of apprentices have been apprentices themselves and they remember the opportunity they were given to learn about their trade and make a career in the industry.

“There are more apprentices being trained in the building industry than any other. However, the number of apprentices is down this year as the industry faces difficult economic times.

“Master Builders appreciates the decision of the McGowan Government to extend the 0.2 per cent Construction Training Fund levy to engineering construction projects in the resource sector, which will boost the number of apprentices being given opportunities.”

The Ric New Rising Star Award for high achievers aged up to 25 years went to Pindan Construction contract administrator Chad Gerber, who gained a Master of Building Information Modelling in the inaugural course at UWA and was instrumental in the successful delivery of the $30 million Warren Health Service redevelopment in Manjimup.

The Ric New Medal was shared by Encon Group director Michael van Dongen and Mondo Exclusive Homes director Ray Kershaw.

“Both have established their own businesses and are impressive characters who are motivated and aspire to making a difference in the industry,” Mr Gelavis said.

“The judges felt the industry was in good shape with the calibre of people coming through the ranks.”

Award winners

Most Outstanding Skill Hire Apprentice
Matthew Ah Siu
Trade: Carpentry & Joinery
Employer/host: Skill Hire

Most Outstanding Plumbing Apprentice
Connor Gaiger
Trade: Plumbing
Employer/host: Boeing Plumbing

Most Outstanding Tiling Apprentice
Daniel Fletcher
Trade: Tiling
Employer/host: Gentile Tiling

Most Outstanding Direct Indenture Apprentice
Laurence Cheyne
Trade: Ceiling Fixing
Employer/host: Exclusive Commercial Lining

Most Outstanding Brick & Blocklaying Apprentice
Tnisha Tonkin
Trade: Brick & Blocklaying
Employer/host: Tyrone Group

Most Outstanding Electrical Apprentice
Jason Lockett
Trade: Electrical
Employer/host: BTech Electrical/Skill Hire

Most Outstanding Female Apprentice
Aly Harper
Trade: Carpentry & Joinery
Employer/host: Cubic Interiors WA

Most Outstanding Indigenous Building & Construction Apprentice
Blake Keen
Trade: Plastering
Employer/host: Maurizio Cremasco

Most Outstanding Carpentry Apprentice
Sam Tucker
Trade: Carpentry & Joinery
Employer/host: Swan Group WA

Most Outstanding Regional Apprentice
Seth Lovall
Trade: Carpentry & Joinery
Employer/host: Broome Builders