Newcastle and Central Coast best of VET honoured

The 2024 Hunter and Central Coast Training Awards celebrate excellence in Vocational Education and Training. Mike Morrow reports.

A man in front of a media wall holding a trophy and certificate. A man in front of a media wall holding a trophy and certificate.
Image: Vocational education and training allowed Lachlan Carey to reimagine his life as a role model for children after serious illness at school.

Lachlan Carey overcame significant adversity to be named Trainee of the Year at the 2024 Hunter and Central Coast Training Awards.

Lachlan received the award for his outstanding proficiency and growth as an early education worker at Newcastle’s A Magical Time Children's Centre, where he fosters a positive and nurturing environment for young children.

“When I was halfway through Year 10, I suffered two strokes which required me to have multiple surgeries and a lengthy recovery time. I was unable to return to school or play rugby league, which was so important to me,” Lachlan said.

“I know what it is like to experience challenges, setbacks and trauma. If I can be a role model and make a difference for a child and help them develop strategies to learn, be accepted, or simply just cope, then this is where I want to be.”

Newcastle Town Hall was abuzz last Friday night as the region's most outstanding individuals and organisations in the vocational education and training (VET) sector were honoured at the 2024 Hunter and Central Coast Training Awards.

Hundreds celebrated the achievements of all category winners, including apprentices, trainees, students, businesses and trainers who champion vocational education. The event highlighted the critical role of VET in shaping a skilled and resilient workforce in New South Wales.

A woman in front of a media wall holding a trophy and a certificate. A woman in front of a media wall holding a trophy and a certificate.
Image: VET studies gave Apprentice of the Year Jacinta Ferris “more opportunities than I could ever have imagined”.

Jacinta Ferris was named Apprentice of the Year for her exceptional performance and dedication as an electrician at AGL Macquarie. Her apprenticeship was marked by significant achievements, including being awarded the prestigious Bert Evans Scholarship in 2020.

“Being an apprentice and now thinking about continuing my vocational education and training studies has provided me with a clear path for my career and more opportunities than I could have ever imagined,” Jacinta said.

“Now that I have completed my apprenticeship, I can expand my experience and knowledge and undertake additional training to advance in my career.”

The Minister for Skills, TAFE, and Tertiary Education, Steve Whan, praised the winners and finalists at the regional awards.

"Congratulations to Jacinta Ferris and Lachlan Carey for their remarkable achievements. Their stories exemplify the transformative power of VET and the opportunities it creates for individuals to thrive and make a significant impact in their communities,” Mr Whan said.

"We know that many jobs created in the next decade will require vocational qualifications. These awards celebrate the young workers, trainers and businesses working to ensure we meet this challenge.”

Presented by Training Services NSW, the awards emphasise the importance of providing real skills for real careers and underline the NSW Government’s commitment to building a highly skilled workforce.

2024 NSW Training Award winners - Hunter and Central Coast

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year: Warrali Griffiths – Revenue NSW

  • Apprentice of the Year: Jacinta Ferris – AGL Macquarie

  • School-based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year: Dascha Harrison – Hunter New England Local Health District

  • Trainee of the Year: Lachlan Carey – A Magical Time Children’s Centre

  • VET in Schools Student of the Year: Seth Newton – Hunter Trade College

  • VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year: Jenny Gurr – Association of Independent Schools NSW

  • Vocational Student of the Year: Lori-Anne Brown – TAFE NSW

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  • Skills champions
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