Like many school-leavers, Maddy Gallagher found herself wondering about a career after finishing Year 12 in 2020.

Maddy in high-vis jacket standing in front of roses.

Maddy at work at the Greater Melbourne Cemeteries Trust.

Unsure of what she wanted to do but keen to enter the workforce, she picked up a factory job in Tullamarine. But it didn’t take her long to realise it wasn’t for her.

“It was Monday to Friday and I was just like: I can’t do this, I can’t be inside,” Maddy says. So she started applying for apprenticeships online.

She secured an apprenticeship with the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust in March, and Maddy has begun more fulfilling and satisfying work with her days spent outdoors cultivating soil, using the ride on mower and planting, among other tasks.

Maddy is happily working her way through a Certificate III in Parks and Gardens based at Altona Memorial Park, and it’s good, practical work with lots of variety. Importantly, it’s outdoors.

“I absolutely love it,” she says. “I think, if anything, I underestimated how good it was going to be. I thought I would struggle to fit in… but they took me in, and straight away, it was like I’d been there for ages. They were really welcoming.”

Maddy was supported through the Victorian Apprenticeship Recovery Package, which places people aged 15 to 24 into fully-funded 12-month apprenticeships or traineeships with government departments, agencies, and local councils.

Backed by a $9 million investment from Jobs Victoria, the scheme placed its 300th apprentice in June.

Maddy says there is much to love about apprenticeships: You earn a qualification and invaluable on-the-job experience, and you are paid to learn.

“For people who don’t look at uni as something they want to do, I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship,” she says. “I feel like every job that you apply for now, all they want is experience. With an apprenticeship, you get the experience, but you also get the qualification.”

The Greater Melbourne Cemeteries Trust’s Horticultural Supervisor, Daniel Walkeden, said Maddy’s hard work, high standards and initiative contribute to her success as an apprentice.

“Apprenticeships are a really good leg-up to either get yourself qualified or just into a good industry and job,” Daniel says.

“I did an apprenticeship myself, and our manager at the moment actually started here as an apprentice, too. It’s really good to get kids in the gates and get their careers started.”

Jobs Victoria supports people looking for work and connects employers with the staff they need. It provides information, advice and support in person, online and on the phone.

Maddy pruning roses.

Maddy hard at work pruning roses as part of her apprenticeship based at Altona Memorial Park.

Find out more about job and training opportunities.