On November 19, 2016, at the MTA Queensland’s President’s Ball held in the elegant surrounds of the Hilton Brisbane, 20-year-old Jamahl Byrne was named MTA Institute’s Apprentice of the Year.

Waiting for the winner to be announced that night was, Jamahl said at the time, a nerve-wracking experience.

“I was trying to contain my heartbeat to be honest,” he said. “It went from stable to a million miles an hour!”

A standout apprentice described as ‘passionate’, ‘driven’ and with potential to be a ‘great ambassador for the industry’, it was a well-deserved win for the young tradesman who had recently completed his light vehicle apprenticeship and taken up a technician’s role at Hansen Ford and Mareeba Toyota in Mareeba, near Cairns.

12 months on from that night and Jamahl has not rested on his laurels. The determination to succeed that marked him as a special talent as an apprentice is paying dividends as a tradesman and at the tender age of 21 he is already a diagnostic master technician often charged with running the workshop, and is on the cusp of completing Toyota and Ford training programs that will see him become a master technician for both brands.

While it is likely that he was always destined to succeed, winning the Apprentice of the Year award had the effect of highlighting to him the benefits of a having a passion for your job and the willingness to work hard.

“It was an accolade I didn’t expect,” he said. “And, on a personal level, it reminded me of how much work I had done, what I could achieve, and how much I should continue to strive to be better.”

It’s an attitude that he hopes the new 2017 Apprentice of the Year will recognise too.

“He obviously worked hard and has done a lot to be nominated and to win the apprentice of the year award,” said Jamahl. “The only advice I can offer is to continue to work hard.

“The award does have an effect on you personally and people do look at you as someone who can achieve at a higher level. So, my advice is to keep pushing and don’t stop. You’ve got to where you are because you are good at what you do – keep trying to be better.”