A BENDIGO-born plumbing apprentice has won a top award.
Elson Tuotipou, a third-year apprentice, was presented with the PBA Safety Indigenous Apprentice Award at the 107th Master Plumbers Gold Medal and Training Awards.
Mr Tuotipou, who works for Cooke & Dowsett in Keilor Park, said he was thrilled to win the award after swapping bricklaying for plumbing.
"I had been labouring for eight months in bricklaying but realised it wasn't for me," he said.
"I knew someone who was a roofing plumber and he offered me a job, so I gave it a go and I'm so glad I did.
"After working in roof plumbing for three years I decided to broaden my knowledge so got into general plumbing.
"I am now working in commercial plumbing and loving all aspects."
The annual award is offered to top indigenous apprentices in an effort to encourage apprenticeship studies in all areas of plumbing.
Mr Tuotipou said he was proud to be a role model for other indigenous workers.
"It is possible to have a great career in an industry you love, if you work hard and apply yourself," he said.
Cooke & Dowsett's Mark Sullivan said Mr Tuotipou was proactive in finding employment after he lost his former job and was a valuable employee.
"He came to us of his own accord after his employer had financial difficulties and closed up," he said.
"At the same time, he took it upon himself to complete his examinations.
"I was impressed by his enthusiasm and the way he conducted himself.
"He is a good all-rounder and extremely diligent in his ground work, which is a dying art.
"We are very happy with his abilities."
Mr Tuotipou was presented with his award at a ceremony in Melbourne on Friday.