Steph Cooke MP and apprentice Agricultural Mechanic Mitchell Collins stand with his Bert Evans Scholarship in front of a huge red tractor.
Steph Cooke MP with Apprentice Agricultural Mechanic Mitchell Collins.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has congratulated three first-year apprentices in Bland Shire on receiving the Bert Evans Scholarship.

The $15,000 award from the NSW Government will be paid out over three years to support the apprentices in their vocational education and training (VET).

Ms Cooke said the scholarships would help the young men complete their apprenticeships.

“Right across the electorate many communities are calling out for skilled tradies, so it’s so important we help people undertaking apprenticeships,” Ms Cooke said.

“The Bert Evans Apprentice Scholarship program has a fantastic completion rate, with 80 per cent of recipients finishing their studies. I am so proud of William Cowen, James Moon and Mitchell Collins who are the much deserving recipients of this scholarship in the Bland Shire.”

Apprentice Agricultural Mechanic Mitchell Collins said he received the first instalment of the scholarship in February and is very grateful.

“The money has helped a great deal with buying the tools I need for my trade and fuel,” Mr Collins said.

“I really want to thank everyone involved in awarding me this scholarship, my bosses at JJ O’Connor and Sons and my Mum – you always have to thank your Mum.”

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said more employers are recognising the value of VET and that money should not be a barrier to people achieving their qualifications.

“Regionally-based apprentices, students with a disability, Aboriginal apprentices and women in non-traditional trades are all represented in the scholarship pool and will benefit from this financial support,” Minister Lee said.

The scholarship program is named in honour of the late Bert Evans AO who was a passionate advocate for apprenticeships and the VET sector for more than 30 years.