2015 Winners - NSW Training Awards

Photos of the 2015 gala event are available to view here.

2015 Apprentice of the Year

Apprentice of the Year

Sponsored by TAFE NSW
Brodie Oakes
Engineering - Mechanical Trade Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW - South Western Sydney Institute
Employed by: MEGT (Australia) Ltd
Hosted by: Qenos Ltd

A thirst for "understanding how things work" runs in the Oakes family, and with encouragement from his father, a mechanical fitter, Brodie decided that he would be best suited in the manufacturing industry.

Brodie demonstrated how everyone can contribute to a better, more efficient workplace. As a third year apprentice, he designed, installed and fabricated a specialised resin filter box to resolve a problem that would otherwise have cost his employer over $60,000 to fix. Brodie's can-do attitude won an Environmental Award for his innovative solution.

Brodie's host employer Qenos, an Australian manufacturer and supplier of polyethylene and polymers, has chosen him to lead a team of contractors providing the maintenance support for a major re-work of a gas refinery and chemical plant. This recognition of Brodie's technical skills and ability to lead and communicate underscores the quality of his training at Lidcombe College.

2015 Trainee of the Year

Trainee of the Year

Sponsored by NSW Department of Industry
Bethany Spoor
Retail - Retail Operations Certificate III
Trained by: McDonald's Australia Ltd
Employed by: McDonald's Lismore

Bethany completed CII & CIII Retail traineeships at McDonald's' Lismore restaurant. During her traineeship Bethany progressed from a customer service operator to crew trainer and was rated as "exceptional" in her performance review, receiving numerous staff performance awards.

Her employer has been particularly impressed by Bethany's broad understanding of the business world and the retail industry, and described her as "a bright star in the industry".

Bethany is a very creative and focussed young woman who has used her traineeship as a pathway to further her career aspirations. She owns and manages an online natural skin care products business that she started at 13 years of age. She also works as a freelance graphic designer, creating logos, business cards, posters and signs for a full spectrum of clients.

Bethany has recently been accepted into Southern Cross University to continue her business studies.

Back to Top

2015 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Sponsored by: The NSW Skills Board
Shaquille Robinson

Vocation: Training and Assessment Certificate IV
Trained by: TAFE NSW - Sydney Institute

Shaquille travels across NSW educating Aboriginal women about their civil law rights. By undertaking a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment she is now able to implement what she has learnt for the benefit of her clients.

She has always had a passion for educating and informing people about their rights, so was able to pick up her new skills quickly, showing great aptitude in communicating with co-workers and clients. Even though working full-time and studying proved to be a steep learning curve for Shaquille, she plans to undertake further study in the future, particularly in the area of mental health and the law.

Shaquille hopes to keep educating Aboriginal communities about civil law, and one day become a solicitor so that she can better represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

2015 School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the YearSponsored by The Bright Future Campaign
Brenden Williamson
Automotive - Motorcycle Mechanical Technology Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW - Sydney Institute
Employed by: On Two Wheels Motorsports
School: Chester Hill High School

Brenden has just completed the first year of his TAFE course, with Sydney Institute, Ultimo College. He finds being in a TAFE environment totally different from school, but states emphatically it has helped and changed his view on school, work and study.

Brenden has been an enthusiastic participant in the School Based Apprenticeship program whilst attending Chester Hill High School, and has accepted several invitations to share his experiences. These include an interview with the local paper and an interview for ABC news about the many benefits of the School Based Apprenticeship programme, highlighting what achievements can be gained.

Recently, Brenden was a guest at "Seek a Skill' Expo where both his employer, On Two Wheels Motorsports and Yamaha Motorcycles were amongst the many exhibitors. Sharing his experiences and achievements Brenden provided valuable peer insight to many Expo attendees on how the School Based Apprenticeship program may be a smart choice for them as well.

Back to Top

2015 Vocational Student of the Year

Vocational Student of the Year

Supported by NSW Department of Industry
Sebastian Barkoczy
Vocation: Advanced Diploma of Live Production, Theatre and Events
Trained by: TAFE NSW - Sydney Institute

Sebastian dabbled in many industries before he enrolled in the Advanced Diploma of Live Production, Theatre and Events at the Design Centre, Enmore. However, from his first day, Sebastian knew he had found his true calling and a career was born.

Sebastian was recently given the chance to put his knowledge to the test when designing and building the stage and light show for the end of year graduation ceremonies at TAFE. Using his newly acquired stagecraft skills he created a spectacular space for the students and their guests to celebrate.

Since graduating he hasn't let the grass grow under his feet. Sebastian is currently studying lighting design at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and his crowd-stopping installations in Martin Place were featured in this year's Vivid Sydney Festival.

Sebastian is excited by the future opportunities that are ahead of him and will never forget how TAFE unlocked his love of design.

2015 VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year

Trainer/Teacher of the Year

Supported by NSW Department of Industry
Troy Everett
Employed by:
TAFE NSW - Illawarra Institute

With over 20 years' experience in the national and international bricklaying industry Troy has many achievements, including his Gold Medal Award for Bricklaying from the Clay Brick and Paver Institute, and recently being appointed as Australian Apprenticeship Ambassador for 2015 by the Commonwealth Government.

Troy is the Bricklaying Head Teacher and Head Teacher of Building and Construction, Civil Engineering, Surveying and Mapping at TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute. He is also the Worldskills International Chief Expert for Bricklaying, and will soon travel to the 2015 International Worldskills Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Troy has used his connections within TAFE Illawarra for the bricklaying students to work in collaboration with architecture students, allowing students to network and breaking down the barriers. The result was very successful, with student Darren Ritchie designing an "Anzac Wall" that Troy is negotiating with a local council to have built.

Back to Top

2015 VET in Schools Student of the Year

VET in Schools Student of the Year

Sponsored by The Bright Future Campaign
Glen Weller
Agriculture Certificate II
Trained by: Public Schools NSW, Tamworth
School: Macintyre High School

Glen is currently completing his Higher School Certificate and undertaking Certificate II in Agriculture as part of his HSC. He has a strong family background in agriculture and he has experience in general farm work with a particular interest in livestock handling methods and animal breeding programs.

He is also completing his Certificate II in Automotive, and Glen believes this will greatly assist him in working in the agricultural industry. Glen will use these dual qualifications to open the best possible pathways for his future success. He has learnt many key skills though his studies in Agriculture, looking forward to greater responsibilities on his family property and intending to further his studies in the Agrifood sector.

Glen is very keen to share his knowledge in Agriculture and strongly recommends students pursue a VET course in whatever field they are passionate about.

2015 Industry Collaboration Award

Industry Collaboration Award

Sponsored by Group Training Association of NSW & ACT
Vocational Qualifications for People with Disabilities
Awarded to: The Flagstaff Group

The Flagstaff Group is an Australian Disability Enterprise employing 350 people, of whom 275 are people with a disability, and operates seven main businesses.

Over the past year, Flagstaff has collaborated with a number of partners including TAFE Illawarra, Training Services NSW and The Aster Group to enable Flagstaff's workplace learning strategy for our employees with a disability. The objective was to up skill our employees, many of whom had never had the opportunity to gain a formal qualification.

This unique collaboration was formed to provide tailored training, surrounding tasks in day to day employment, and allowing them to obtain a Nationally Recognised Qualification of Certificate II in Process Manufacturing, Food Processing and Waste Management.

The program has already graduated 90 people with disabilities with a Certificate II course, meaning they now hold a vocational and nationally recognised qualification. The program also encourages the wider community to think "outside the square" in how we build confidence and empower people with disability.

2015 Large Employer of the Year

Large Employer of the Year

Sponsored by Apprenticeship Support Australia
Richmond Valley Council

Richmond Valley Council (RVC) has a strong workforce of 250, made up of men and women between the ages of 16 to 75 years, many from diverse backgrounds.

RVC started using the apprenticeship and traineeship system in 1999 with a single engineering apprenticeship, and to date has more than 150 employees who received their training under this arrangement.

RVC works in partnership with Southern Cross University, North Coast TAFE and VERTO Apprenticeships Centre to help deliver its annual training plan.

As a community leader and one of the region's biggest employers, RVC wants to help local young people obtain meaningful and sustainable work, and offering scholarships, apprenticeships and traineeships is an important part of its plans to do this.

Providing opportunities for young people to learn the skills which will equip them for the future is important not only for them, but also for the future wellbeing of the Richmond Valley community.

Back to Top

2015 Small Employer of the Year

Small Employer of the Year

Supported by NSW Department of Industry
Bale Defence Industries Pty Ltd

Bale Defence Industries are a proudly Australian and family owned engineering company dedicated to supporting the Australian Defence Force and its allies. Over the past 36 years, BDI has developed a solid reputation for its innovation in design and manufacture of world-class military equipment used in operations both domestically and abroad by Army and Navy.

At the core of the company is its highly skilled and adaptive workforce. By embracing the latest manufacturing technologies, staff are challenged to think outside the square in developing and optimising systems.

BDI are proactive in identifying and fostering young local talent, working closely with technical colleges, schools and group training companies in the region. Also, in order to attract young professionals from metropolitan areas to country NSW, BDI have established an Industrial Experience Program targeted at promising young engineers who are seeking a more hands-on and diversified career.

2015 Large Training Provider of the Year

Large Training Provider of the Year

Sponsored by NSW Department of Industry

VERTO is a community owned, not-for-profit organisation, delivering a range of employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries in communities across New South Wales.

VERTO started as an evening college in Bathurst in the early 1980s and has grown to provide services from 27 locations across New South Wales. On average, VERTO trains 3000 people each year in both accredited and non-accredited vocational training offering a range of over 50 qualifications.

Clients have expressed their appreciation of the partnership relationship that VERTO builds, and the job-appropriateness of the training courses.

VERTO is an Apprenticeship Network Provider, jobactive provider and offer training services through their Registered Training Organisation. They offer community support services, including Aboriginal and disability services, and specialised training to link the most disadvantaged people in our community with sustainable employment opportunities.

Back to Top

2015 Small Training Provider of the Year

Small Training Provider of the Year

Supported by NSW Department of Industry
Learning Sphere Training Solutions

Learning Sphere Training Solutions (LSTS) is an employer-attentive training provider, collaborative with the Australian workplace.

Through their depth of experience, LSTS has enjoyed proven success in up-skilling existing businesses and providing quality training for their employees. By keeping the organisation relatively small, all Learning Sphere staff maintain close working partnerships with clients, their clients' employees, and learners.

For the Learning Sphere team, their most satisfying achievements come from relationships built around training programs tailored for jobseekers, often with disabilities, and in nurturing relationships within indigenous communities.

Starting from western Sydney, LSTS has expanded their pre-vocational programs to include outback regions of NSW, seeing many successful students moving into job positions and workplace traineeships.

The Learning Sphere mission statement since their establishment has never changed:

Development and growth should never leave your focus - people or business.

2015 Excellence in Trade Skills

Excellence in Trade Skills

Sponsored by Unions NSW
Troy Hindmarch
Trade: Retail Baking (Cake & Pastry) Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW - Illawarra Institute
Employed by: The Gumnut Patisserie Pty Ltd

Troy originally left school in Year 10 to pursue a career in plumbing, but when that opportunity evaporated with the Global Financial Crisis, he applied for an apprenticeship with Gumnut Patisserie, and fortuitously, fell in love with the trade.

Troy has become highly skilled in all fundamental areas of the trade, completing his apprenticeship in Cake and Pastry, a Certificate III in Bread and Pastry and additional training at the Savour Chocolate Academy.

Troy has won an array of awards through competitions entered at the Royal Easter Show, and the Baking Association of Australia. Troy actively participates in local community events, such as the Bowral Long Lunch, and the Southern Highlands Cook Off to help raise money for Youth Mental Health.

Troy says that his apprenticeship has given him a secure future in the industry and plans to open his own Patisserie one day.

2015 Phil Darby Memorial Award - Encouragement Award for an Apprentice or Trainee

Phil Darby AwardSponsored by Australian Industry Group
Eh Ler Taw
Engineering - Mechanical Trade Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW - South Western Sydney Institute
Employed by: MG My Gateway
Hosted by: Precision Valve Australia Pty Ltd

This year's winner exemplifies the spirit of the award. As a Khmer Refugee, Eh Ler spent part of his childhood in a refugee camp in Thailand where he dreamed of becoming an engineer.

When Eh Ler arrived in Australia he overcame the barriers of limited English language skills before proceeding to complete his school certificate, a prevocational course, his apprenticeship in Engineering Mechanical, and a Diploma of Engineering.

Eh Ler has been recognised by his teachers and employer as being a fantastic role model for other students and work mates. He likes to challenge himself, is focussed on training, and, not surprisingly, thoroughly loves his trade. He has competed twice in World Skills and has won many awards.

Eh Ler has displayed an excellent skill level in the workplace and through his TAFE studies, and is delighted to share his knowledge, skills and experiences with fellow apprentices and tradesmen.

Back to Top

2015 Top Apprentice in the Vehicle Trades

Top Apprentice in Vehicle Trades

Sponsored by Motor Traders' Association of NSW
Trent Schumi
Automotive Mechanical Technology (Heavy Vehicle Mobile Equipment) - Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW - Hunter Institute
Employed by: Komatsu Australia Pty Limited

Trent has completed three trade courses since starting his career back in 2006, with his first apprenticeship being Marine Craft Construction, followed by his Automotive - Heavy Vehicle qualification. Trent attended night school to complete his Automotive Electrical Technology qualification.

Trent has achieved many academic awards for the duration of his trade with an average mark of 94%, and attained first place in his academic trade course for three years, the Komatsu Apprentice of the Year four years consecutively, and the 2014 Komatsu National Apprentice of the Year.

He has represented his employer, Komatsu, and Hunter TAFE at various events including the 2012 innovation awards.

Trent presents himself very professionally and has been actively promoting Trade training within his community, speaking at local schools, forums and other events to encourage young people to consider attaining a trade qualification.

2015 Special Award for a Woman in a Non-Traditional Trade or Vocation

2013 Special Award for a Woman in a Non-Traditional  Trade or Vocation

Sponsored by NSW Department of Health-Women NSW
Nicole Paxman

Trade: Automotive Mechanical Technology (Light Vehicle) Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW - Riverina Institute
Employed by: Brad Loiterton's Auto Electrics

The winner of this award in 2015 is Nicole Paxman.

Nicole is currently undertaking an Apprenticeship in Auto Electrical, having already qualified as a mechanic. Nicole's interest in becoming a motor mechanic started at the age of 16, and her achievements are a testament to her commitment, initiative and persistence.

Nicole's employer, Brad Loiterton's Auto Electrics in Cootamundra, praises her willingness to learn, and capacity to apply her knowledge to practical tasks to a very high standard. Nicole's methodical approach to all tasks, and natural enthusiasm sees her training and supervising staff.

At the same time as undertaking training and working, Nicole has been a single parent to her young son, Dennis. Nicole is showing her son and other women wishing to enter a non-traditional trade or vocation the tremendous value of pursing your dreams by taking the first step to "give it a go".

2015 Excellence in Electrotechnology

Excellence in Electrotechnology

Sponsored by NECA Group Training
Geoffrey Bragg
Electrical (Electrician) - Electrotechnology Electrician Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW - New England Institute
Employed by: New England Solar Power

Geoff completed an Electrotechnology Electrician Certificate III with New England Solar Power in Armidale as a mature-aged apprentice. Geoff has excelled in all aspects of the training and his commitment and dedication to the trade, and training allowed him to achieve at a high level.

Geoff has been involved with the solar industry for many years, and has a keen interest in the area of solar power, particularly in the political, economic, social, regulatory and technological aspects of solar energy. Being a keen advocate for solar energy, Geoff is now regarded as a recognised spokesperson who advocates passionately on behalf of the industry through a number of voluntary positions.

In his spare time, Geoff loves to spend time with his family, the outdoors and time on his bush block.

Page last updated: 08 April 2016