LEETON'S Hayden Mahalm has beaten some tough competition to bring home a state honour.
Hayden was named the first year apprentice of the year at the recent Master Builders Association of NSW excellence in state awards evening.
Employed by Broadbent Builders in Leeton, Hayden was both surprised and shocked when his name was read out on the night.
"It was pretty unexpected, I didn't think I was a chance at all," the aspiring builder said.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking having to go up on stage and accept the award.
"It's a big honour."
Hayden was supported on the night by his family and employers.
The Master Builders Association (MBA) of NSW organises and promotes a comprehensive awards program for the building and construction industry.
They cater for the entire spectrum of building industry participants and include apprentices, students, residential, commercial and civil contractors as well as building degree graduates.
Highly-contested in all sectors, the MBA's award programs represent the encouragement and promotion of excellence in construction, workmanship, innovation and dedication to the industry and are one of the industry's oldest award programs.
Hayden is currently completing the second year of his carpentry apprenticeship and said it was a career he was enjoying already.
"It's really good, I'm learning a lot," he said.
"Jamie (Broadbent) is really good to work for.
"This is my second year, so I feel like I'm starting to find my feet a bit more and not having to ask so many questions all the time."
Hayden left school when he was halfway through year 11 to take up an apprenticeship with Broadbent Builders and it is a decision he doesn't regret.
"I always wanted to do something like this, so to get that chance was really good," he said.
The other way it works well for Hayden is when it comes to his studies.
It's all about learning on the job while still earning his qualifications.
Instead of having to spend days hitting the books at TAFE, taking him away from his employer, his qualifications are being earned hands on.
All of the benchmarks he needs to hit are then assessed and targeted on the job site.
Hayden said any other youngsters wanting to get into an apprenticeship or traineeship should think about it.
"I definitely recommend it," he said. "It's a good way to learn a trade, but also be earning some money at the same time."
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