Apprentices get their career into gear

Public news

James Sparrow is set for a future filled with opportunity, named as Apprentice of the Year at the recent MTA Automotive Awards and Graduation Ceremony, presented by the Motor Trade Association of SA/NT.

Having also graduated from his Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology at the event, Mr Sparrow was awarded the top honour for his outstanding performance during his four years at Rowell & Searle Auto Transmissions in the Adelaide CBD.

Held on Friday night at Adelaide Oval, the annual event celebrated the achievements of all 218 graduates from the class of 2021. Showcasing the depth of automotive opportunities across the State, the finishing trades included light vehicle, heavy commercial vehicle, heavy commercial trailer, automotive refinishing, automotive body repair, automotive electrical, agricultural mechanical, automotive sales and mobile plant.

This was a record number of graduating students, up from 197 last year. The MTA is South Australia’s largest trainer and employer of automotive apprentices and it’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Unerkov paid tribute to the graduates and eight award winners on the night, while emphasising the value of a trade in the ever-evolving automotive industry.

“These graduating apprentices are entering the automotive industry at a turning point for technology advancements,” said Mr Unerkov.

“Their apprenticeship has occurred at a time of the biggest change in the automotive industry and with the skills shortage facing the industry in South Australia, their career opportunities are endless.”

Mr Unerkov also noted the significant role the MTA plays in ensuring a pipeline of apprentices to help grow local automotive businesses.

“An apprenticeship is a rewarding and challenging experience and I thank the apprentices’ families, our training and employment staff, the hosts, employers and MTA members, who all play a critical role in supporting each graduate,” he said.

The awards are assessed against several criteria, including workshop and training performance, customer service and the apprentice’s role in the community.

Mr Sparrow, who also won the Most Outstanding Third Year Apprentice at the 2020 awards, was nominated for his ability to go above and beyond in the workplace.

“He is always striving to improve upon his mechanical knowledge and become the best he can within the automotive industry,” said Peter Stewart, of Rowell & Searle Auto Transmissions.

Mr Sparrow has now set his sights on becoming dual-traded in auto electrical with Rowell & Searle Auto Transmissions and the MTA, setting the foundations for a long-term future in the industry.

Other major award winners were Ian Wedding (trainers award), Holly Burn (most outstanding first year apprentice), Josh Abbot (second year), Samuel White (third year) and Joshua Will (regional). Peter Trevorrow, of Riverland Collision Centre was presented with the Bob Goldsworthy Award for his outstanding performance in a paint or panel apprenticeship. In its inaugural year, the MTA trainer of the year, which is based on student feedback, was awarded to Jason Cavanagh.

Established in 1926, MTA SA/NT is SA’s only dedicated automotive industry training provider; working with more than 1200 automotive businesses, their 15,000 staff, 900 apprentices in training and more than 450 apprentices in employment.


Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Spirit Super:
James Sparrow, hosted at Rowell and Searle Auto Transmissions

Most Outstanding Third Year Apprentice, sponsored by Mas National:
Samuel White, hosted at Detrac Diesel

Most Outstanding Second Year Apprentice, sponsored by RAA:
Josh Abbot, hosted at RMB Services

Most Outstanding First Year Apprentice, sponsored by Blackwoods:
Holly Burn, hosted at Brian Rooney Auto Service

Regional Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by MTA Regional Training Centres:
Joshua Will, employed at Tatiara Truck & Trailers Pty Ltd

Bob Goldsworthy Award, sponsored by PPG and I-Car:
Peter Trevorrow, employed at Riverland Collision Centre

MTA Trainers Award, sponsored by Capricorn Society Limited:
Ian Wedding, Redwings Auto Electrical

MTA Trainer of the Year Award, sponsored by REDARC Electronics:
Jason Cavanagh