Usually it’s university students who are eligible for the best grants and scholarships, and one of the best perks of uni life is being able to go on exchange overseas. Well, we’ve found an awesome overseas program that our tradie m8s can get amongst.

It’s called the Queensland Overseas Foundation (QOF) Scholarship Program and it’s specifically for 18–30-year-old apprentice, trainee and VET graduates (Cert III and up) who want to go work overseas and get some more experience in their chosen trade. The scholarship helps fund travel-related expenses up to $7,500(!!!) and it’s awarded to five people per year.

The QOF Scholarship Program is exclusive to Queenslanders and aims to provide the opportunity to gain diverse experience in leading foreign markets. Chefs, designers, and mechanical tradespeople have undertaken the scholarship to expand their skills and experience. The Queensland Overseas Foundation have already sent more than a hundred tradies overseas and the testimonials sound water tight.

Richard Ousby, who used the scholarship to go to the UK and work as a chef, said,

“My ambition is to be among the top chefs of my generation. To do this I felt it was absolutely necessary for me to work overseas and experience working with top chefs. The Queensland Overseas Foundation program stood out as a vital stepping-stone for me to achieve this.”

Ben Nedwich is a 20-year-old business admin trainee from Bundaberg and one of the winners of the 2017 QOF Scholarship. Ben originally had his sights set for the Army after school, but asthma complications left him unable to progress. It was through his volunteering work that he found out about the business admin traineeship, and has since been awarded the Australian Trainee of the Year 2016.

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When asked what he plans to do now that he has won the QOF Scholarship, Ben said he was hopeful he could go to the US to learn “technology and innovation”.

“Not sure where I want to go yet, it really depends on the offers I receive. I’m hoping to become involved in one of the big tech companies, but any opportunity is worth it.”

Successful applicants are expected to make their own travel and employment arrangements but QOF can help out with industry introductions and advice.

To be eligible, you need to have completed an apprenticeship, traineeship or VET course (Cert III or above) and gained 2 years of experience in your industry. You also need to be willing to leave within 12-months of being awarded the scholarship and intend to return to Queensland after the trip

Exchange programs aren’t just limited to uni students, and there’s no reason that doing a trade should hold you back from achieving your goals. Ben Nedwich vouched for that when we asked him what he could tell his younger self if he had the chance:

“I would tell myself that regardless of my result in high school, although important, does not define my future career and success that I can achieve anything I would like to achieve.”

For all the selection criteria, check this out, and if you want to apply, have a look at the application page. Or, if you’re looking to get started in an apprenticeship or traineeship, scope out some of the options with BUSY At Work – they can hook you up with training across a range of different trades and industries, including school-based apprenticeships. Check out their site for more details.

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