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Local apprentice plumber has reason to smile after receiving $3,000

Kieran McKenzie, a local apprentice plumber from Moruya, has been recognised for his commitment to the industry and is one of 10 Aussie apprentices to receive a $3,000 Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grant. 

Thirty-year-old Kieran is in his third year of the trade and has received a share of the $30,000 available from the scheme to help kickstart his plumbing career. 

Kieran joins nine other apprentice plumbers from across Australia, who have each received $2,000 to assist with their TAFE/RTO fees and textbooks, and $1,000 to help the newcomers build their all-important trade tool box. Of the ten apprentices to receive a grant, three hail from New South Wales, being Tarago, Moruya and the third state recipient from Artarmon. 

“Following feedback from apprentices, plumbing teachers and employers, we’ve determined that the greatest financial hardships are associated with tuition and tools. The grant provides recipients with the opportunity to commit to further study, such as continuing the optional fourth year where apprentices can earn their tradesman license and dream of one day operating their own business,” explains Chief Operating Officer at Rheem, Chris Taylor. 

"Both Geogia Ugov, a local apprentice plumber from Tarago and Kieran McKenzie, are completing their trade studies through the Canberra Institute of Technology and have outshone the competition by demonstrating their passion for plumbing, strong work ethic and commitment to the industry."

“I knew from a young age that I never wanted to get stuck behind a desk but instead have a career that involved using my hands and problem solving. After completing the Women in Trade program, I realised without doubt that my future involved plumbing,” says Georgia Ugov, 2020 Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grant recipient. 

Notably, this year’s Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants received a record number of applicants, with 75% more applicants compared to last year. This exemplifies that despite the rampant impact of COVID-19, apprentice plumbers like Georgia and Kieran remain focused on the future and aren’t letting the effect of the pandemic dampen their career prospects.

“Although I have faced a few challenges on my journey to becoming a plumber, I’ve remained determined to complete my apprenticeship. I love plumbing because it makes me feel successful, and this is something that has not been my experience throughout prior education and jobs, until I began the trade,” says Kieran McKenzie, 2020 Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grant recipient.  

   Photo: O'Brien Plumbing Batemans Bay

As a lady tradie, Georgia represents a minority group, with females comprising just 1% of construction tradespeople. However, Georgia hasn’t let gender act as a barrier preventing her from following her passion for plumbing. 

“As a woman in the industry, I have come to accept that I will never be as physically strong as some of my male colleagues. At times this can be frustrating because it puts me at a disadvantage with tasks that require great physical strength, but I’ve learned to not be afraid to ask for a hand and that no one is going to think less of me because of it,” says Georgia

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