Aim high with the help of a Global Footprint Scholarship

If you are a Vocational Education and Training (VET) student trained in agriculture, horticulture or a trade like metalwork or another field of manufacturing, this may be for you. Since 1983, more than a thousand young Australians have travelled the world with this scholarship program and returned to Australia ready to share ideas, knowledge, skills, and networks to inspire others.

Ryan Hepplewhite was the 2018 Sheet Metal Scholar with Global Footprints Scholarships and Big Brother, and winner of the $8,000 travel grant to go overseas for a unique industry experience. This program, previously known as BBM Scholarships, is all about sustainability and supporting young people to create the future they want for themselves and their planet.

Hepplewhite first started his journey to be a metal fabricator when he was 13 years old, playing around in the yard at home in Mt Keira, NSW. First came a trolley for his cycle to help move his shovels around when creating dirt bike jumps. Simple things.
Next came his passion to create parts to make a go-kart.

“I picked metalwork as an elective at high-school and enjoyed making useful hand tools for myself,” he said. He loved making things he knew would last a lifetime. He did some work experience at Coastwide Engineering once he was old enough and was offered an apprenticeship by them. They’d seen his enthusiasm to get back to work as soon as possible.

“Once working, I soaked up all the knowledge I could,” Hepplewhite continues. He doesn’t know how he found out about Global Footprints, but he won First Place at the regionals, and won Gold at the National WorldSkills competition.

In 2018 as a fourth-year apprentice, Ryan applied for a scholarship to travel overseas with his skills. His workplace selection was the WEC Group in Darwen UK.

“My Global Footprints Scholarship gave me an opportunity to travel and learn my trade in another country,” he said. “I was able to travel on my own and continue seeing parts of the world I’d never been to.”

Ryan was learning a broad range of techniques, industry standards and sustainability in his trade. “I met a lot of smart people who were willing to give me advice and guidance to better me as a tradesman,” Hepplewhite said. “The history of fabrication dates back such a long time in the UK. It was a great experience seeing the craftsmanship in even the smallest of details.”

“I’ve become a more knowledgeable and better tradesman, leader, and person. I am enormously proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in my trade with the help of many others,” he said. “I have now been given the opportunity to pursue another trade in the industry, that being an industrial electrician. My skills as a fabricator have already helped me so much learning another trade.”

“I cannot wait to see what the future holds or where I’ll end up, but I know I’m lucky to have had the opportunity with my scholarship to explore what another part of the world could teach me,” he added.

Global Footprints Scholarships open every year at the start of May.