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Thomas is building a better future

TAFE NSW Hornsby

Thomas is building a better future

TAFE NSW Hornsby student, Thomas Payton has been recognised for his work ethic and ambition to use his carpentry skills for humanitarian purposes at the Australian Housing Awards.

Awarded the prestigious Jim Brookes Australian Apprentice of the Year award, a humbled Thomas said, “I was absolutely stoked to be recognised for an award in an industry that I am so passionate about being a part of.

“I flew down to Melbourne for the event and was lucky enough to meet Scott Cam from The Block, and all of the other amazing finalists.”

Thomas discovered his love for carpentry when began laboring for different companies after work and on the weekends.

“When I finished school I had no interest in going to university and to be honest, wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do. I loved agriculture and farming, so I started working on a poultry farm. After working there for two years, I decided that as much as I loved my job, it was time to get a qualification.

“I was interested in starting a trade and by laboring I learnt that I really enjoyed carpentry. With that, I began my apprenticeship, enrolled in the Certificate III in Carpentry at TAFE NSW Hornsby and never looked back.”

Now completing the Certificate IV in Building and Construction at TAFE NSW Hornsby, Thomas is passionate about using the skills he has learnt to help rebuild areas affected by natural disasters.

“When I was at school, my friends and I fundraised to have a school built in a remote area of Papua New Guinea. We then flew over to hike the Kokoda Track and were lucky enough to have a few extra days to work on the project, which is where my interest started.”

A few years later while travelling around Nepal and India, Thomas met an Australian carpenter who was working on re-building areas destroyed by the 2015 earthquake.

Thomas explained, “Meeting him and hearing about the work he was doing really inspired me to use the skills I have learnt through TAFE NSW and my apprenticeship to help people overseas, in less fortunate areas.”

On track to graduate from TAFE NSW at the end of this year, Thomas is already looking into projects that he can work on to help others.

“I recently attended a Doctors Without Borders information night to find out about construction projects they have running in disaster and conflict areas. Once I have enough knowledge and experience, I cannot wait to be involved.”

To find out more about studying carpentry at TAFE NSW Hornsby, phone 13 16 01 or visit

Media contact: Emma Cawley, TAFE NSW Media Officer,, mobile 0412 478 415.