WHEN Clayton Harrington took up a carpentry apprenticeship as a teenager, he had no idea it would lead to national recognition.
The Warrnambool builder completed group training with Westvic Staffing Solutions, where a series of achievements led to him being awarded Victorian apprentice of the year for 1998.
He has since become the owner and director of Harrington Design and Construction Propriety Limited and three other companies and was this year named an apprenticeship ambassador for the state government.
The title saw Mr Harrington attend the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Victorian Training Awards at the Crown Palladium last month.
He sat with various industry leaders, including Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall.
“I think they believe my story is encouraging for students who might be apprentices in the future,” Mr Harrington said.
“It’s good to be able to give something back.”
It was at the ceremony that Mr Harrington was approached to represent the federal government as an ambassador for Apprenticeships Australia.
The role will require him to promote apprenticeships as a valid career option in order to tackle a nationwide skills shortage in trades.
Mr Harrington said his ownership of companies in land and building development, commercial construction, holiday accommodation and fitness was an example of the broad range of possibilities that could be accomplished from skills-based training.
He said he tried to encourage apprentices to take advantage of their learning opportunities, rather than treating their job as a “means to earn a wage”.
“They can gain a vast array of skills that they can utilise for the rest of their lives,” he said. “The amount of pathways apprenticeships open up — work in the mining industry or major companies — it’s a great starting point to get into business.
“The key thing is to gain as much knowledge as you possibly can.
“Have a lot of pride in what you do and set yourself goals that you’re achieving on a daily basis.”
Mr Harrington will attend the Australian Training Awards in November.