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TAFE NSW graduate wins scholarship to build better boats

TAFE NSW, Ultimo

TAFE NSW graduate wins scholarship to build better boats

A Northern Beaches’ apprentice shipwright plans to learn from the world’s best boat builders, after winning an $8000 scholarship recognising his passion for sustainability and improving his industry.

Oscar Press, 21, has just completed his Certificate III in Marine Craft Construction at TAFE NSW, where he learned the theory and honed skills he has gained through his apprenticeship with Rowell Marine.

“I was working at a Marina as a Tender Boy and had started a different career path.  A mate introduced me to my now boss and the stars aligned, and here I am four years later about to graduate from TAFE NSW as a qualified shipwright,” he said.

Demand for highly trained boat builders is on the increase in Australia, driven by continued growth in annual recreational boat sales which grew by more than 8% in 2022 to $9.55 billion, with more than 26,000 people directly employed in the boating industry nationally. The skills demand is recognised by the Federal Government’s Skills Priority List.

“I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in the Northern Beaches and have always had a passion for boats and being on the water. Sharing the water and seeing the amazing natural environment we live in has also fuelled my passion to focus on increasing the sustainability in the work I do ,” Oscar said.

Oscar was awarded the scholarship from Global Footprints to enhance his skills under the guidance of global practitioners providing him with a unique opportunity to learn from best-practise global practitioners, contributing to the evolution of eco-friendly boat building techniques.

Reflecting on his journey, Oscar was grateful for his experience at TAFE NSW stating, "My time at TAFE NSW has been great, it was actually my teacher Rob Reid who put me onto the scholarship.  He was really helpful with the application and gave me a great reference.  

“Once I’ve completed my study tour, I’m keen to bring my learnings about improving sustainability back to the industry in Australia. For anyone thinking about doing this for a job, it’s a great time to join, it’s really hit a boom and the work has so many positives. With TAFE NSW, you get skills across so many different fields. I really love the wood working, it’s detailed work and so rewarding to see the finished product,” he said.

Rob Reid, Boat and Shipbuilding teacher at TAFE NSW Ultimo, is similarly proud of Oscar and the recognition of TAFE education in producing industry-ready professionals.

"Oscar is a great example of the calibre of students we see at TAFE NSW.  Our curriculum is designed to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, preparing students to meet industry demands. We know the shipwrights who apprentice people like Oscar, value this education as they are usually TAFE NSW graduates and understand the hands-on experience and comprehensive skill set we provide."

Media contact: Melanie Pope, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7920 5000.