AGA Trainee shows humble beginnings no barrier to success

Nathan Damjan is a young man on a mission. Leaving school in his early teens due to circumstances outside his control left him in a profoundly vulnerable position. It was life changing — but not in the way you might think.

Demoralised and facing a future of diminished career options, he put all his energy into pursuing the one thing that could alter this trajectory — getting an education.

“I didn’t finish year 12, I only made it to the end of year eight,” said Nathan. “People being mean and bullying me, racist remarks because of my indigenous side. I decided to leave and go into higher education at TAFE…less than a year after I left I was back, because I didn’t want to lose out on education.”

He completed his schooling at TAFE in an environment that was both supportive and motivating. He powered on with a Foundation course at Victoria University and this enabled him to go on and complete Certificates III and IV in Community Services.

It was a remarkable turnaround that reflected Nathan’s strong character and will to succeed. But he wasn’t done yet.

In March this year, Nathan scooped two awards at the 2020 Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) Apprentice of the Year Awards, an event that was delayed due to COVID. Winning both the OHS Star Award and the Indigenous Student of the Year Award were testament to Nathan’s hard work and self-belief.

“Winning the awards made me feel that I’m acknowledged on what I’m doing and that I must be doing a good job,” said Nathan.

“AGA has helped by supporting me along the way, they are quite happy with how far I’ve come. It was better for me to be in a traineeship because it will help my resúme.”

Nathan is currently completing his second Certificate IV, this time in business, at Metro Tunnel in Melbourne, a role he secured through AGA. Being part of a major infrastructure project is an impressive addition to his resúme and will undoubtedly bolster his already bright future prospects.