11 May 2022
Tom (Thang Songput) and Clinton Leavold
For many years Thang Songput (Tom) had dreamed of becoming a mechanic. Now, thanks to his own personal commitment to pursuing that passion, the skills and training he is receiving at SuniTAFE, and the support of Clinton Leavold through his apprenticeship with Mildura Motor Holdings, Tom is well on his way to making that dream a reality.
Tom moved to Mildura from Melbourne with his wife and three children just one year ago, and in the time since they arrived, another baby has been added to their family. Even during this busy time of change and upheaval in his life, Tom knew it was time to get moving on his dream of becoming a mechanic.
Enrolling into a Certificate II in Automotive Vocational Preparation (AUR20716) at SuniTAFE provided Tom with a supportive learning environment to kick-start his career in the automotive industry. This course is an introductory Certificate with clout. It provides pathways and options to achieve an apprenticeship or move into higher education. It prepared Tom for employment in the broader automotive industry and it was just the start he needed to build his career from the ground up.
“As soon as I moved to Mildura, I decided I wanted to follow my dream career,” Tom said.
“I asked my friends within the community, who all said if I really wanted to become a mechanic, I needed to go to SuniTAFE and start from there, and it will lead to my dreams.”
After completing his Certificate II in Automotive Vocational Preparation (AUR20716) Tom was able to obtain an apprenticeship with Mildura Motor Holdings, who sell and service a range of vehicles. This apprenticeship provided him with the opportunity to work under the leadership of Clinton Leavold while he continued studying the Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology (AUR30620).
Tom says he was able to achieve his ongoing skills and training at SuniTAFE, while conducting his apprenticeship and raising a family, thanks to the support of those around him and SuniTAFE’s flexible delivery arrangements.
“The course delivery methods at SuniTAFE are very flexible and supportive, the staff are all friendly, all the resources from the library are more than enough,” Tom said.
Tom also praises the apprenticeship environment at Mildura Motor Holdings.
“I am really enjoying my apprenticeship and that I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of vehicles,” Tom said.
“There are really good staff here, all the mechanics are very helpful and I am already learning a lot.”
Tom is working under the watchful eye of another SuniTAFE graduate, Clinton Leavold, who is currently the Service Manager at Mildura Motor Holdings.
Clinton completed a Certificate II in Automotive at TAFE while he was still a student at St Joseph’s College in Mildura. Once he became an apprentice, he completed a Certificate III in Automotive (Light Vehicle). This balance of study and work-based training enabled him to pursue his interest in becoming a mechanic, which was first sparked as a 13-year-old.
“I worked on a drag car team back in Darwin where I was living at the time and my grandparents were mechanics, so my passion progressed from there,” Clinton said.
“After finishing Year 10, SuniTAFE helped me get the apprenticeship at Hutchinson Motors back in the day and since then, I have been a general technician, diagnostic technician, foreman, and Service Manager, which is where I am today.”
Clintons says his career has moved up a role nearly every four years and that SuniTAFE gave him, and many of the other apprentices he has worked alongside, the head start they needed.
“SuniTAFE definitely gives you the skills that you need, it’s those little things that SuniTAFE provides that can make a big difference to an apprentice,” Clinton said.
“When someone has studied at SuniTAFE, I know they have the right skills and the courses give them a step above those who haven’t done that training.”
For more information on current automotive courses available at SuniTAFE visit www.sunitafe.edu.au/courses/sunitafe-automotive-engineering-courses.