June 18-24, 2023: Issue 588


TAFE NSW Graduate - local female tradie awarded apprentice of the year + student of the year

Leila de Young accepting her award. Photo supplied

June 14 2023  

TAFE NSW graduate and local Leila de Young has been named Apprentice of the Year and Student of the Year at the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards. 

The 22-year-old Freshwater local completed her Certificate III in Electrotechnology at TAFE NSW Northern Beaches in 2018, while undertaking an apprenticeship as part of her HSC. 

She chose a vocational qualification as an alternative pathway to university after having a chat with her dad, who is in the construction industry.  

“I had no idea what career path I wanted to follow and couldn’t see the logic in choosing an expensive degree that I was not 100% sure I would stick with.  

“The course runs for three years, with a mix of theory and practical units covering all essential electrical concepts, such as complex wiring rules calculations, testing electrical installations to ensure compliance, and workplace safety. 

“A couple of integral conversations I had with both my father, a builder, and an electrician at a high school careers expo, introduced me to the construction world and I realised that there were other options apart from the traditional university route,”  Ms de Young said. 

She worked as an apprentice for Dvine Smart Homes, headquartered in Curl Curl for over two years and believes the company was integral to “exemplifying her confidence and abilities.” 

“I started my apprenticeship two weeks out of high school and attained a nationally recognised trade qualification at the age of 21. 

“They nurtured me at every stage of my learning and never made me feel silly if I had questions,” Ms de Young said. 

According to data uncovered in The Productivity Commission White Paper released in 2021, women make-up only 2% of qualified trade workers. Nationwide, there is a massive demand in industries such as building, and construction, and women are an untapped market. 

To encourage women to get into trades, the NSW Government launched the Women in Trades program which is aimed at tackling skills shortages in trades areas and offers women employment security in high demand industries. For Ms de Young, studying at TAFE NSW has enabled her to be highly employable in an essential, booming industry.  

“This qualification will keep me highly employable for the rest of my working life in a forever-growing, essential industry with endless room for growth,” Ms de Young said. 

This year, Ms de Young decided to further explore the design-oriented aspect of the profession and has now been accepted into Sydney University’s Architecture degree. Due to her passion firmly rooted in construction, she continues to be a strong advocate for the value of vocational training.  

“I have grown into a confident, practical, independent young woman as a result of studying this [TAFE NSW Certificate III in Electrotechnology] qualification. 

“I do not regret my decision to undertake an electrical apprenticeship for an instant and am forever grateful to my teachers, employers, and colleagues for helping me to achieve what I have,” Ms de Young said.