Footballer Harrison Wigg appeared to have his AFL career mapped out when he was drafted by his hometown club Adelaide at pick 35 at the
2014 national draft. Despite being an under-18 All-Australian, the talented defender was unable to break into the Crows strong AFL team and was traded to Gold
Coast three years later.
But a series of cruel injuries, including two broken ankles and a season-ending knee injury, meant that after five years on AFL lists, Wigg never
got the opportunity to play a senior game. Yet Wigg is content as he always knew there was more to life than football.
Wigg, 24, had started a construction industry apprenticeship at 17 and “never looked back”. He is in stellar form for his SANFL club North
Adelaide, and works as a wall and ceiling liner for Adelaide Pressed Metal. “I had always been pretty good with my hands and a mate who was about to start an apprenticeship said to me, ‘you know, I’m going to get paid to learn a trade’. And I thought, ‘oh, that sounds pretty good’,” Wigg said.
“Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with going to uni. It just wasn’t for me. And the thought of having to pay this massive study debt,
actually kind of scared me a bit.”
Wigg has joined with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to support National Skills Week, which runs from 23 to 29 August, and
encourages Australians to ‘rethink’ and explore the many vocational career pathways as Australia’s economy recovers from the COVID-19
pandemic. There are a wide range of industries currently crying out for apprentices and trainees, with unprecedented demand and few workers to meet that
The focus of National Skills Week 2021 is on challenging perceptions of vocational education and training, reimagining bold and innovative ideas
for young Australians to take on their careers and to reassess the value of the VET sector.
“The great thing about working in the construction industry is that there’s this kind of instant reward,” Wigg said.
“Yes, you work pretty hard, but you get a great lifestyle and independence. I can do the things I want without having to rely on anyone else. I
really feel like I got a head start in life. If you’re thinking about doing a trade, I’d say go for it.”
CITB chief executive Andrew Fullgrabe said this week was a great opportunity to highlight the benefits of a construction industry career.
“The CITB plays a vital role in attracting young people into careers through school-based apprenticeships, helping workers take the next step in
their careers, and backing South Australian businesses to grow and thrive,” Mr Fullgrabe said. “We hope that stories like Harrison’s inspire people to actively explore and consider a career in building and construction. This year the CITB will invest more than $1.2 million in our schools’ program, doorways2construction, that provides a proven path to transition students from school into a career in the construction industry, and we are allocating more than $19 million to support apprentices to complete their trade training. As Harrison can attest, a trade can provide valuable skills, rewarding work and a great lifestyle.”
Watch Harrison Wigg reflect on the value of a trade in this CITB video: https://vimeo.com/566901483