The MTA Institute held its first graduation ceremony in February, acknowledging the effort of apprentices who completed their studies between July and December 2017, as well as students who recently finished the institute’s five-week automotive pre-vocational program.

Held at the MTAiQ Innovation Hub at MTA Queensland’s head office in Brisbane, some 40 apprentices and students, plus family members and guests, attended the event and received their graduation certificates from Mr Paul Kulpa, General Manager of MTA Institute.

Also on hand were Anna Ibbotson, Executive Officer of Queensland Overseas Foundation (QOF), and guest speaker Joshua Stemm, a former automotive apprentice who, thanks to the assistance of QOF, has worked across the world and is now a senior engineer for Tesla in Australia. MTA Queensland is a sponsor of QOF and its program that provides up to $7500 to vocational education and training graduates and professionals to broaden their horizons and improve their career prospects by working overseas.

During his opening address, Mr Kulpa acknowledged the challenging road the graduates had travelled to complete their apprenticeships and thanked their families and Institute administrative and training staff for the support they had given the students.

“Completing your apprenticeship is a tremendous result,” he said. “This industry still suffers from a 50 per cent apprentice drop-out rate, and I mention that because it shows what a phenomenal effort you have put in to completing the journey you started four years ago.

“So, now is a time to reflect on those four years and the rewarding and challenging experience it was. And I acknowledge your families and friends who have gone on this journey with you. Getting through the apprenticeship is a group effort and they’ve been there with you for both the highs and lows.

“You have grown considerably since you began your training and the decision you made to start your apprenticeship is a life-changing one. I hope you will look back on this time and see that MTA Institute provided a great platform for you as you start your career. We are proud to have played our part. Congratulations.”

Following Mr Kulpa’s introduction, Anna Ibbotson from QOF gave a short address about her organisation before introducing Joshua Stemm.

Mr Stemm’s career is a great example of the amazing opportunities on offer for those working in the automotive industry. Following the completion of his Queensland automotive apprenticeship in 2007, and with the help of QOF, Mr Stemm moved to the Middle East to work, completed a Masters of Strategic Automotive Dealership Management at Loughborough University in the UK, and became part of a team responsible for business planning, forecasting and strategy for General Motors in the Middle East and Africa. Aged just 32, Mr Stemm moved back to Australia this year to work with Tesla.

For the graduates in attendance, it was an inspiring story and something to aspire to as they shift from student to tradesperson.

For 20-year-old Tahné Fishpool, from JC Automotive in Morningside, graduating was a great feeling.

“It has taken a while to get my head around it, but It’s a real accomplishment and I am very proud,” she said.

“It’s also a huge relief to have graduated, as I am not a fan of the theory stuff,” she added with a laugh. “Obviously I am going to continue my education but I’m immensely glad the book work is over!”

Starting her automotive career as a school-based apprentice, Tahné trained with, and works for, her father at JC Automotive. His support, she said, was very important and the journey from novice to tradesperson was immensely satisfying.

“At first, my dad asked, ‘Do you really want to do this?’,” she said. “He knew I would be making a big commitment, but he made sure I stayed on top of my schoolwork and apprenticeship work and, obviously, he was very supportive.

“On the very first day as an apprentice, watching a qualified mechanic take an engine apart, you think, ‘Wow, how do they remember where all these bolts and seals go!’. Now, you are the person taking apart and rebuilding that engine, and that is the ultimate satisfaction.”

MTA Queensland and MTA Institute congratulates all apprentices who completed their training in the period July 1 – Dec 31, 2017. Graduation ceremonies will be held twice each year, with the next to be held in August and acknowledging those apprentices graduating in the period of January 1 – June 30, 2018.

8 Mar 2018