LEONGATHA South’s Thomas Knox is one of 10 Aussie apprentices to receive a $3000 Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grant for his commitment to the industry.

Thomas, a third-year apprentice in his late 20s, joins nine other apprentice plumbers from across Australia who have each received $2000 to assist with their TAFE/RTO fees and textbooks, and $1000 to build their trade toolbox.

A plumbing student at Apprenticeships Group Australia and completing his training with Ash Watt Plumbing, Thomas outshone the competition by demonstrating his passion for plumbing, strong work ethic and commitment to the industry.

Thomas is praised by his boss for his “strong work ethic” which allowed him to complete trade school in less than two years.

“I enjoy plumbing because it is consistent yet also extremely diverse,” he said.

“The world will always need plumbers, so there is a sense of job security and stability in knowing that my career will never become redundant.

“However, there’s also endless opportunities and a variety of work opportunities which create a feeling of overall career satisfaction.”

Notably, this year’s Rheem Apprentice Plumber Grants received a record number of applicants, with 75 per cent more applicants compared to last year.

This exemplifies that despite the rampant impact of COVID-19, apprentice plumbers like Thomas remain focused on their future and aren’t letting the effect of the pandemic dampen their career prospects.

“Beginning the trade as an adult and supporting my young family while earning an apprentice wage has presented a hurdle which required careful navigation to overcome.

“However, I haven’t let this hurdle prevent me from completing my plumbing apprenticeship and following my passion,” Thomas said.

Of the 10 apprentices to receive a grant, four hail from Victoria, with the other three recipients from Drummond, Noble Park and Trentham.

“Following feedback from apprentices, plumbing teachers and employers, we’ve determined that the greatest financial hardships are associated with tuition and tools,” explains Rheem chief operating officer Chris Taylor.

“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.”