The Trowel Trades Awards ceremony in Melbourne earlier this year saw apprentice Casey Shannon receive the Best Second Year Apprentice honour. She has been completing a Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling, and juggling a part-time job as a personal trainer in her off hours.

Casey describes herself as a “perfectionist” and her “above and beyond” approach makes her highly valued by her employer, Bravada Waterproofing. Casey’s interests outside of work have a strong community focus. She regularly volunteers at marathons, helping clients achieve their fitness and wellbeing goals through these events.

Described by her teachers as a forward thinker who showed great initiative, Casey’s mindset saw her excel in the workshop. “Casey took the leap into a male-dominated trade and demonstrated great skill and passion,” said tiling teacher Frank Vanzella.

In terms of choosing a worthy recipient of the Trowel Trades award, Frank said he looks for apprentices who have a good work ethic and a willingness and strong desire to learn. In addition to a sincere interest in the job and punctuality, Frank believes in the importance of the following traits in apprentices:

  • Being able to manage themselves and their work by knowing their role and responsibilities in the business and meeting all job requirements.
  • The ability to prioritise their work and manage time well. Being productive and allowing that to influence co-workers.
  • Being goal oriented and the capacity to push themselves to do the best that they can – not content with just enough.
  • Having patience and hardworking, and always having a “can do” attitude. The ability to work things out, with assistance if needed, no matter how challenging the task.
  • If they are passionate about their work they will enjoy doing it. When people enjoy their work, it will naturally bring out the best.

Not surprisingly, there have been a number of changes in the students who have participated in the wall and floor tiling course over the years. Frank said one of the biggest developments has been the use of technology and how apprentices used it in their work.

“There has been a big shift in attitude. More apprentices these days are fully committed to their job,” he adds.

There are also industry challenges that tile students are facing today and the Holmesglen TAFE course is addressing these issues. “Like many other trades, products and techniques are always evolving. Bigger tiles and large formatted sheet tiles and new designed layouts for wet areas are always changing the way we are laying tiles.

“TAFE and industry go hand in hand to teach new apprentices on all new techniques and products available to the students, so they have a better understanding of current work practices,” explains Frank.

Sponsors for this award include RLA Group, Parex Davco, B.A.T. Trims, Laticrete, Bostik and Ardex.