Considering what metal fabricator William McCallum has been through, it’s extraordinary how far he has come. Here, William shares his story.

When William McCallum was partway through his engineering – fabrication apprenticeship, he had an horrific motorbiking accident and had to have emergency brain surgery.

He had been out riding when his throttle jammed right before a jump, propelling him into the air and sending his body crashing down three storeys.

William was airlifted to hospital and released after a check-up.

After a few weeks recovering, he went back to work for several months, then finally went to emergency after suffering excruciating migraines.

Doctors found William had suffered a minor stroke and a brain bleed and needed emergency brain surgery at the Alfred.

The road to recovery was a long one – William spent six months recuperating on the couch.

At the time, he was in his third year of a Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade apprenticeship.

“For six weeks after the accident, I wasn’t even supposed to bend down or anything – it was pretty full on,” he says. “You can’t get your heart rate up and for a while I had to do nothing, which is hard for me because I’m a very active person. I’m always at work or the gym.”

When William was finally ready to go back to his apprenticeship, he pretty much had to learn how to weld again.

“It knocked me around a bit physically and six months off the tools is a long time, especially when you’re learning as it is,” says William. “It came back pretty quickly, but it was tough going back to work.”

Despite the serious setback, William absolutely excelled at Chisholm.

He finished his apprenticeship ahead of time (in two years, eight months) and won Apprentice of the Year at the 2022 Chisholm Education Awards.

He was also nominated as Apprentice of the Year for the 2022 Master Builders Victoria Apprentice of the Year Awards, as well as the Victorian Training Awards.

“It was a great feeling finishing and it was nice knowing all the hard work had paid off,” says William.

These days, William loves working with Dean G Fabrications in all forms of metal fabrication for the commercial, residential, industrial and retail sectors.

As part of his job, he gets to do a lot of work in automotive fabrication – something that’s a personal passion of his too.

“I’ve always been into cars,” says William. “Being able to work on race cars is pretty cool. I love welding so much, I do it out of work too, and I’m currently building a couple of cars of my own – a Ford Falcon and a Datsun Ute.”

William usually kicks off his work at 7am and then gets cracking on the jobs for the day.

Every day is different because there’s a lot of custom fabrication involved, which is exactly the way William likes it. “It keeps things interesting,” he says. “I’m definitely using the skills I learnt at Chisholm every day.”

William’s specialty is TIG welding with stainless steel and aluminium, a technique that involves welding intricate items.

“It’s a very difficult skill to learn but it opens a lot of avenues for work,” he says.

William’s advice to others considering a career in metal fabrication was to give it a crack and get your hands dirty.

“I learnt a lot at Chisholm,” he says. “It’s a pretty fun trade.”