Matthew McDonald: Adelaide Sign Design, Green Fields

MatthewTwo apprenticeships and soon a Bachelor of Computer Science is the story so far for Graphic Designer – Matthew McDonald.

Shortly after finishing high school, Matthew found his passion at 20 years of age when he first started working at Adelaide Sign Design, based at Green Fields in 2006. The core of his work is designing and printing signs and stickers for buildings, cars, vans and trucks and the business currently services up to 600 customers all year round. Matthew even has his own client base and also chips in to assist other customers when required.

“Matt has come a long way since starting here under me as an apprentice sign writer” says Chez Barbaro. “It wasn’t until about 12 months into his apprenticeship that he found his feet with customer interaction due to low confidence levels and now its second-nature for him. I know I can give him a job and he is more than capable to work through it with ease and problem solve by himself. Another feather in his cap is the fact that some of our clients prefer to deal with him”.

In terms of the support from the Aboriginal Apprenticeship Program, Matthew found the mentor visits, which occurred on a quarterly basis throughout his training contract of great benefit. “It was reassuring knowing I had someone to call on if I needed help with anything”. The retention incentives from the Department of State Development along with Commonwealth funding played a big role in securing Matthew as an apprentice and seeing him complete his Certificate III in Sign Writing and Certificate III in Graphic Design.

Matthew hopes all or most apprentices will see their apprenticeships through til the end as he knows first-hand the struggle of a low income during the earlier years. The short-term pain, long-term gain quote is the best way to describe an apprenticeship but “you just need to stick it out despite not getting paid as much early on”.

For information about Aboriginal support programs please contact the Skills and Employment Infoline 1800 506 266 or email

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