Spend just five minutes with the 2016 Australian Apprentice (Trainee) of the Year Ben Nedwich and you’ll soon discover that he is a quiet achiever with a big future ahead of him. Ben, a former business administration trainee with the Bundaberg Regional Council, was awarded the Apprentice (Trainee) of the Year for 2016 at the prestigious Australian Training Awards in Darwin. But his success didn’t come over-night. His award is the product of a young life committed to family, work and community.
In being recognised as Australia’s best trainee in vocational education, Ben was praised for his professional skills, expertise and dedication.
At just 20-years-old Ben already already has a string of achievements under his belt. In 2016 alone he received a string of accolades including the Queensland Trainee of the Year, a gold medal in Business Services at the WorldSkills Australia National Competition in Melbourne, and the Sunrise Rotary TAFE Queensland East Coast Region Trainee/Apprentice of the Year and Overall Student of the Year,
While his success is undeniable, Ben remains incredibly humble and level headed. Perhaps this overwhelming sense of genuineness stems from his childhood growing up as one of three boys on a small cropping farm near Bundaberg.
“We all used to work on the family farm, helping wherever we could. We’d help Dad put in posts, prune vines and pick the fruit,” Ben said. “I learnt discipline from an early age and I took great pride and satisfaction in contributing to the family business,” he said.
Ben took up karate at six-years-old. Applying the same work ethic and discipline he’d grown up with on the farm, he quickly rose through the ranks to become Queensland Karate Federation Champion—a title he held for six consecutive years.
“Karate is a way of life,” Ben said. “It teaches you how to concentrate and how to deal with conflict. You learn amazing life skills and develop life-long friendships. But most importantly, karate fosters a strong sense of unity and spirit; values I try to uphold every day,” he said.
At 15-years-old Ben was selected to attend the PCYC State Youth Leadership Program where he learned the importance of leadership and the potential impact young people can have on their communities. Inspired, and with a new sense of purpose, he pursued his interest and became a member of the PCYC Youth Management Team, a decision which would ultimately lead to his appointment as trainee with the Bundaberg Regional Council.
“After I finished school I wanted to advance my skills and take on an active role in my community. The Council’s traineeship program offered me a unique opportunity to earn a wage, obtain a qualification and make a difference,” Ben said. “I was challenged, supported and guided – it was an amazing experience,” he said.
To complement his traineeship, Ben completed a Certificate III in Business Administration at TAFE Queensland, which he believes has been pivotal to his success.
“Assessments were not only customised to my industry, but also to my role at Council and the tasks I was responsible for,” Ben said. “It really opened my eyes to new and innovative ways of doing things. I learnt how to accurately organise and appropriately prioritise components of varying project phases. Business Administration provides people with an amazing foundation of skills which are transferable to any industry."
Having completed his traineeship, Ben has accepted a permanent position at the Bundaberg Regional Council and intends to make a positive impact in the community. “I want to help inform the important decisions necessary to affect much needed change throughout our region,” he said. And no doubt, he will.