Ashley Naumann, a 24-year-old jeweller from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to study gold sculpture and engraving techniques in Florence.
Naumann was presented with the award by the Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley, on behalf of the Queensland Overseas Foundation, a non-profit organisation that has provided annual scholarships to high achieving Queenslanders for the past 28 years with the goal of bringing the best global practices back to the state’s industries.
The scholarships, which are valued at up to $7000, give young tradespeople who have completed their formal apprenticeships or vocational training the opportunity to live and work overseas in a country of their choice for up to two years.
Naumann, who will depart for Italy on April 30, will complete training in Florentine Hand Engraving and ‘Traforo Fiorentino’ (jewellery open work ‘Florentine style’) in Florence and then head to the UK to look for employment opportunities.
“I want to become skilled in these specialised areas so it gives me an ‘edge’ and so I can bring these European techniques back to Australia,” he said.
“I also want to gain experience working for different companies to broaden my knowledge of the global jewellery industry.”
Naumann, who completed his jewellery manufacturing apprenticeship at Maleny Jewellers and Southbank Institute of Technology last year, has already won several other awards during his short career including a silver medal at World Skills Australia National Competition in 2010 and best overall design award at Southbank in 2010.
He was also a finalist apprentice in the 2010 JAA Awards for showcase and design and a finalist in the Queensland Training Awards’ Apprentice of the Year in 2011.
Naumann said the scholarship would give him the confidence to pursue other goals.
“Gaining overseas work experience will expose me to a different language, different culture, and different people – it will be a totally new way of living,” he said.
“I have worked extremely hard to get to where I am, and am really excited about my venture overseas.
“In this day and age, employees prefer applicants who can bring a different experience to the table.”
Queensland Overseas Foundation chair Rebecca Hall said Australia could not afford for graduates to ignore an international career perspective.
“There is much to be gained for our industries by exposing tradespeople to the best possible global practices.”