When he was just a boy Colin Prest knew what he wanted to do: pull cars apart and fix them. From becoming a tradie to now teaching his craft to others, he relishes the satisfaction that comes from turning a childhood dream into a lifelong career
"My uncle was a mechanic and my Dad was always tinkering with cars and from the age of eight I was fortunate enough to know that that was what I wanted to do," said Colin"As soon as I was old enough I began an apprenticeship in automotive technology and forty years later I am loving life and still loving what I do."
Colin is also extremely good at what he does. After running his own successful automotive repair business in New South Wales for over 20 years, Colin had a desire to give back to the industry and pass on his skills to others. Now a qualified vocational education and training (VET) teacher at the Canberra Institute of Technology, Colin has seen the industry from many sides as an apprentice, a boss and a teacher.
Colin's excellence was recognised as a finalist in the 2013 Australian Training Awards VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award. As a proud member of the VET Alumni, Colin is keen to do anything he can to encourage others into trades and promote them as a first class career.
"Sometimes I hear people say that a trade is just a job, not a career, but you only have to look at my experience to see how wrong that observation is. An apprenticeship can be a launching pad to a great career and along the way you can reinvent yourself and go in a different direction, as I have with teaching.
"I have seen people use their skills to do all manner of amazing things and that began with an apprenticeship. Another thing VET has given me is freedom. Freedom to move from working for someone to being my own boss and running my own very successful enterprise," said Colin.
"I have many highly educated friends from all walks of life and they will often look at what I do with a mixture of admiration and envy. That's because of my 'real world' skills and the fact that being able to 'fix things' has been the basis of an enduring career and a world of opportunities.
Colin's advice to anyone deliberating about their future is to find something they're passionate about and stick with it.
"When I look back on the choices I made I wouldn't change a thing," said Colin. "My boyhood hobby has led to an exciting, satisfying and rewarding career and forty years on I'm still living the dream. How lucky am I?"