2020 Winners - NSW Training Awards

Individual Awards

2020 Apprentice of the Year and 2020 People’s Choice Apprentice of the Year

Apprentice of the YearJoshua Nickl
Certificate III in Retail Baking (Combined)
Trained by: Canberra Institute of Technology
Employed by: Gumnut Patisserie Pty Ltd
Region: Illawarra & South East NSW Region

Pastry is Joshua’s life. He grew up in his parent’s patisserie so it’s no surprise he’s driven to follow in their footsteps.

Joshua has been privileged to train under some of the industry’s best pastry chefs at work and under world-renowned Dammika Hatharasinghe at CIT who pushes him above and beyond.

In 2018 Joshua topped his CIT class and won Most Outstanding Apprentice of All Trades.

Joshua regularly competes in industry competitions achieving Baking Association of Australia’s National Apprentice Pastry Chef of the Year, 2017. He dedicated his ‘spare’ time to train over 20 additional hours a week with The Australian Pastry Team. In 2019 they competed in France’s Coupe Du Monde placing sixth – Australia's best result yet.

Constantly seeking improvement, Joshua travelled to Europe on a working holiday learning new pastry skills and making life-long industry connections.

“As my career progresses, I’m excited to train and lead the pastry chefs of the future.”

2020 Trainee of the Year

Trainee of the YearEmily Jones
Certificate IV in Library and Information Services
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: ATEL Training Solutions
Hosted by: Greater Hume Council
Region: Riverina Region

Dreaming of a career where she could help others, Emily became a Customer/Library Service and Youth Development trainee for the Greater Hume Council while also studying teaching and completing her HSC.

Delighted to discover that libraries are the heart of the community, Emily brought her library into the 21st century instigating a social media plan and connecting young people to their services.

When Emily’s supervisor became ill, she took over the planning and implementation of a major youth arts event that attracted 250 young people to Henty. It won ‘Highly Commended’ at the NSW Youth Week awards.

Well-respected in her community, Emily has instigated four new youth advisory committees in the region. She’s now a full-time Youth Officer at the Greater Hume Council.

“Supporting these incredible young people has been a gift. It’s given me so much job satisfaction. I’m excited to know they’re growing into the best version of themselves.”

2020 People’s Choice Trainee of the Year

Trainee of the YearReece Oldfield
Certificate III in Surface Extraction Operations
Trained by: Train 365 Indigenous Corporation
Employed by: Skillset
Hosted by: Moolarben Coal Operations Pty Ltd
Region: Western NSW Region

Originally employed in earthmoving, Reese realised mining required similar skills, but offered greater career development and work/life balance. Once qualified, he could transfer his skills to any mine worldwide! Now employed with Moolarben Coal, Reece recognises the immense value of practical training. He aims to continually better himself through education.

2020 School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the YearCassandra O'Carroll
Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management
Trained by: Kiama Community College
Employed by: HVTC Pty Ltd
Hosted by: Shoalhaven City Council
School: Bomaderry High School
Region: Illawarra & South East NSW Region

Cassandra is thrilled to be undertaking her school-based traineeship in the threatened species department of environmental services at Shoalhaven City Council.

During the recent bushfires, Cassandra applied the scientific skills she’d learnt at Kiama Community College to help injured wildlife. She documented fatalities, epicormic regrowth after fire and compiled data on weed invasion, feral predation, sedimentation of creeks, and species proliferation.

As school captain of Bomaderry High School, Cassandra created the Sustainable Schools Competition where schools compete for prizes by undertaking eco-friendly initiatives.

A National Parks Wildlife Services volunteer, Cassandra was a speaker at Nowra’s school strike for a climate change rally, a joint recipient of the Victor Chang Science Award, and a participant in the Sonder Youth Leadership Program.

“I would highly recommend VET as it boosts your employability and gives you practical training. Most importantly, you meet new people who’ll open doors and help you on your way to success.”

2020 People’s Choice School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the YearTheodore Scholl
Certificate II in Warehousing Operations
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: Richmond Valley Council
School: St Mary's Catholic College, Casino
Region: North Coast & Mid North Coast Region

Theodore chose a SBAT in warehousing because he wanted to challenge himself in an unfamiliar industry. As storekeeper for Richmond Valley Council, he enjoys the role’s variety and his connection to the community. Winner of multiple leadership awards, Theodore seeks to be the change he wants to see in the future.

2020 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the YearJanaya Milgate
Qualificaiton: Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
Trained by: Early Childhood Training & Resource Centre (ECTARC)
Employed by: Farran Street Pty Ltd
Region: Central & Northern Sydney Region

When Janaya’s parents fostered four babies, her life changed forever. She tells people that ‘childcare chose her.’

After caring for four babies, Janaya thought she knew everything. When she started her traineeship at Farran Street Childcare, her eyes were truly opened!

Her motto is: ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’ She loves observing her team so she can learn from them. She takes pride in being a positive influence, modelling manners, acceptance and self-love.

Over 36 months she gained her Certificate III and Diploma qualifications.

As Farran Street’s Indigenous liaison, Janaya ensures everyone has a deep understanding of Indigenous culture.

Having battled anxiety and depression, Janaya has learned self-care – her childcare career has been her best medicine.

“I’m an Indigenous girl from a small country town. There’s a stereotype that we’re either teen mothers or young offenders. I want to show my community that we can be more than a statistic.”

2020 People’s Choice Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the YearRaymond Steadman
Qualificaiton: Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
Trained by: International Child Care College Pty Ltd
Employed by: Awabakal Preschool
Region: Hunter Region

Ear infections are a significant health issue for Aboriginal children. Raymond developed an innovative program to make children feel comfortable with doctors and is undertaking further studies so he can identify issues early. ‘Our children are our future. I’m privileged to help them have the best possible start in life.’

2020 Vocational Student of the Year

Vocational Student of the YearJon Frost
Qualification: Certificate IV in Information Technology Support
Trained by: Australian College of Commerce and Management
Region: North Coast & Mid North Coast Region

Jon’s first role at Service NSW Taree involved educating the public on how technology could enrich their lives. It inspired him to take his passion for customer support and IT to the next level through VET.

As a full-time employee, Jon experienced time-management challenges studying online in a regional area. He often felt like giving up. However his trainer provided after-hours assessment, broke tasks down to manageable chunks and kept him motivated by celebrating wins.

Jon formed strong links with his community through Rotary and grass roots engagement to champion and promote Service NSW’s offerings. As a result, Jon was awarded the 2018 Service NSW ‘DNA CEO Award.’

After gaining his qualification, Jon was promoted to Service NSW’s new Product Digitalisation Team.

“Completing my certificate has changed my life and helped me realise my dream career. Through determination, focus and support, you can overcome barriers and achieve your goals.”

2020 VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year

VET Trainer/Teacher of the YearMegan Renwick
Employed by: Public Schools NSW, Macquarie Park
Field of Study: Hospitality

In 2015, Megan realigned the hospitality program at Winmalee High School to create the innovative @thecaffeinelab, a student-led school cafe.

In one-year, hospitality enrolments grew from 41 to 149 students. The following year eight hospitality classes were offered with students attaining 1st and 4th in the state for their HSC Hospitality Method.

@thecaffeinelab is a valued part of the school’s culture. Local industry is impressed by the students’ vast skill set resulting in many student employment opportunities.

Winmalee High School enrols a diverse range of learners. Megan utilises peer mentorship and personal empowerment to inspire her students to reach their full potential. She ensured reasonable adjustments were in place to assist learners to meet the requirements for the qualification.

Megan now consults on similar programs in NSW schools.

“It’s my mission to create a safe and meaningful work environment where every student can develop their confidence, feel empowered and achieve success.”

2020 VET in Schools Student of the Year

VET in Schools Student of the YearPeyton Bennet
Qualification: Certificate II in Hospitality
Trained by: Public Schools NSW, Macquarie Park
School: Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College, The Entrance Campus
Region: Central Coast Region

Peyton has been creating cake recipes since she was 12 with a dream of opening her own store. VET is helping her make that dream a reality.

Peyton has put her hospitality skills to good practice at Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College’s cafes, making coffees for subject selection nights, principals breakfasts and helping cook and serve at school events.

A confident, quick learner, Peyton has demonstrated leadership abilities in the commercial kitchen and food service areas. Training has opened up work experience opportunities and, importantly, job prospects.

At the age of 11, Peyton was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. She works harder than others to complete simple tasks. She’s proud of achieving an A and B grade average.

“I’ve found great strength in my studies and the amazing support from my educators. Just because people with learning difficulties find things harder doesn’t mean we’re any less capable of succeeding in VET.”

Organisation Awards

2020 Industry Collaboration Award

Industry Collaboration AwardFulton Hogan and Fusion Training Solutions Pre-employment program
Collaboration by: Fulton Hogan and Fusion Training Solutions

Fulton Hogan is an infrastructure company that cares for the communities it serves.

They recognise a skilled workforce is important for all Australians and are committed to creating a pipeline of talent by engaging underrepresented groups who offer great potential to the industry.

The NSW Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program (ISLP) was the catalyst for Fulton Hogan and Fusion Training Solutions to deliver a range of pre-employment programs, apprenticeships and traineeships.

This innovative collaboration provided employment pathways for the long-term unemployed and refugee/asylum seekers in communities near the Albion Park Rail Bypass.

In consultation with community groups and SCARF Refugee Support, they devised an integrated training and support program addressing identified learning barriers so participants could develop the capabilities required to step into paid employment.

Students also put theory into practice by gaining hands-on experience working in a live environment.

This supported pathway gave them a sense of purpose, connection and achievement.

2020 Large Employer of the Year

Large Employer of the YearFantastic Furniture

From their humble beginnings as a stall at Parklea Markets, Fantastic Furniture has grown to become one of Australia's largest furniture manufacturers and retailers with 80 superstores Australia-wide.

Employing over 1000 passionate people, Fantastic Furniture believes that learning is the foundation for success. That’s why 90% of staff engages in training through tailored accredited and non-accredited programs

Their Fantastic eCademy qualification is based on the Certificate III in Retail. This innovative industry-recognised program is delivered through coaching, workplace practice and their eLearning platform, ‘The Learning Lounge.’ To date, 275 employees have graduated. For some, graduation is the highest educational milestone they’ve achieved.

Fantastic Furniture fosters talent through their ACE emerging leaders program. Participants develop a project aligned to business needs with many inspiring innovations in internal processes, manufacturing and supply chain.

While training enhances the company’s capabilities, Fantastic Furniture deeply values the improvements in staff morale and wellbeing that training provides.

2020 Medium Employer of the Year

Medium Employer of the YearHort Enterprises

In 1995, Hort Enterprises launched their small family engineering support business in Orange.

They’ve evolved to become a full-scale engineering operation with multiple workshops that provide high quality services for mining and engineering industries Australia-wide.

Hort places training at the centre of how they do business. Fifty percent of employees undertake courses that maximise exposure to the widest range of competencies.

Partnering with Group Training Organisation, Skillset, they’ve encouraged youth employment supporting 150 local apprentices and trainees to completion.

Training has improved workmanship and increased productivity and profitability. Staff retention rates have climbed to 78% with revenue increasing by 30%. Training has also opened doors to successful tenders for high-level specialised government contracts.

A proud equal opportunity employer, Hort Enterprises supports Indigenous identified positions, mature aged apprenticeships and offers drought-affected farmers a pathway to employment.

They are committed to investing in training the people of western NSW now and into the future.

2020 Training Provider of the Year

Training Provider of the Year Public Schools NSW, Tamworth

Public Schools NSW, Tamworth provides high quality training and assessment to learners across 118 public schools in NSW.

One of the largest school system RTOs in Australia, Tamworth RTO enrols 8700 learners from years 10 to 12 across 31 qualifications. They offer entry-level qualifications and School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs) that are paired with the HSC.

Public Schools NSW, Tamworth encourages learners to achieve their best outcomes and build productive careers. Due to their dynamic workforce and vast geographical footprint, they take an innovative approach to training. Every student receives work readiness training and is supported by a career and transition team.

They address skill shortages by building strong relationships with local employers in a range of sectors. This provides learners with realistic workplace experiences and up-to-date training that results in meaningful employment after school.

Employer surveys indicate that their learners are significantly more engaged with the training system and their industry.

Special Industry Awards Category

2020 Special Award for a Woman in a Non-Traditional Trade or Vocation

Woman in a Non-Traditional  Trade or VocationGeorgia Foley
Qualification: Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: HVTC Pty Ltd
Hosted by: Narrabri Coal Operations
Region: New England Region

When Georgia commenced her apprenticeship with Whitehaven Coal, she was delighted to receive the Bert Evans Scholarship. It eased the financial burden and helped her buy quality tools for her kit.

Georgia successfully adapted to working in a male-dominated, non-traditional trade by modelling positivity, embracing every possible opportunity and becoming respected amongst her peers.

Whitehaven Coal provided Georgia with opportunities to work across all their mining sites (open cut and underground). They supported additional training and were so impressed with her achievements; they featured her in various promotional activities.

Georgia was recently offered a permanent role as an underground electrician with a contractor at Narrabri.

“My apprenticeship helped shape who I am today. It’s made me more outgoing, confident and strong. I want to be a role model for not only women in trades, but for regional youth. Gaining skills while earning money is an undeniable advantage of an apprenticeship.”


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Eduardo Carvallo Carrera

NSW Training Awards
Education and Skills Reform
PO Box 5068
Parramatta NSW 2124


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Page last updated: 9 October 2020