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Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis met Jess Cotton, a recipient of the Bert Evans Apprentice Scholarship who currently works at the Busways depot in Grafton. Image: contributed.

Clarence Valley apprentices win scholarships

Emma Pritchard |

 They are the future of local businesses and trade throughout the community and play vital roles within the workforce.
Earlier this month, three Clarence Valley apprentices won the prestigious $15,000 Bert Evans Apprentice Scholarships from the NSW Government.
The scholarships are worth $5000 each year over a three-year period and support apprentices who are experiencing financial or personal hardship.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said apprentices demonstrate a high aptitude for vocational education and training, and are committed to their on and off the job training. 
Recently, Mr Gulaptis met one of the local recipients Jess Cotton who is undertaking her Certificate III at NSW Tafe and is currently employed as a first-year heavy diesel apprentice mechanic at the Busways Grafton depot.
Describing Miss Cotton as “a real pocket rocket”, Mr Gulaptis said the young woman from Junction Hill loves her job.
“I was really impressed with her positive attitude and most of all, the smile on her face and how she loves getting her hands dirty,” he said.
Miss Cotton, who has been working at the local Busways depot for almost one year, said she was thrilled to win the scholarship and considers herself lucky to have a job she is very passionate about.
The 21-year-old revealed she has spent some of her $5000 on a tool kit and she is keen to invest in her career with long term plans to work in the mining industry.
“It was really good to win the scholarship because it’s allowed me to buy the tool box which helps me to do my job,” she said.
Other local winners of the Bert Evans Apprentice Scholarships are Josh Murphy from Grafton and Saffron Mathot from Maclean.
Mr Murphy is a second-year apprentice and undertaking his Certificate III in plumbing with Planet Plumbing of Grafton.
He is currently working on the upgrade of the Coffs Harbour Base Hospital before he will commence work on the new Tweed Valley Hospital with his employer.
Ms Mathot is currently completing an apprenticeship with Yamba Bowling Club caterers.
Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the scholarship program is named in honour of the late Bert Evans AO, a passionate advocate of vocational education for more than 30 years.
“An apprenticeship is a great way to kick-start a career,” Mr Lee said.
“Apprentices are vital to our State’s growth, but we also understand it’s not always easy to complete a qualification.
“In some cases, they may be the sole supporters of their family and have difficulty buying tools for their trade while others travel hundreds of kilometres just to attend their formal training.”
The Bert Evans Apprentice Scholarships were first launched in 2014 and have gone on to assist many apprentices across NSW complete their apprenticeship and establish successful careers.
Mr Gulaptis said all of the local winners have shown tremendous determination to develop their skills in vocational education and training.