2017 NSW Training Awards Winners

Meet the Award category winners of 2017.

Individual Awards Category

2017 Apprentice of the Year

Jordan Cahill

Trade: Horticulture - Landscape Construction Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: The Gardenmakers Pty Ltd

Jordan chose landscape construction because it combines a variety of trades in one. He’s demonstrated exemplary skills in timberwork, stone masonry, brickwork, and horticulture on projects ranging from multi-million dollar developments to playground construction.

After winning multiple World Skills accolades, Jordan has been invited to join their judging and leadership teams. In 2017 Jordan completed a work-based scholarship with UK’s The Outdoor Room working at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show and now plans to own his own landscaping business.

“My hands-on training was invaluable. My teachers constantly pushed me to meet the highest standards. My teachers are now my industry mentors.”

2017 Trainee of the Year

Madison Coelli

Vocation: Business Services - Business Administration Certificate IV
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: GetSet Inc
Hosted by: Southern Cotton

Madison began her traineeship in weighbridge operations before quickly moving up the ranks to high-level administration and logistics. Along the way, she rose to every challenge becoming resilient and self-reliant.

Madison’s traineeship gave her the confidence to secure her dream job in logistics and trade at Walnuts Australia making her a role model for women in the agricultural industry. In 2016, Madison was awarded Leeton Business Awards’ Trainee of the Year and crowned Sunrice Festival Fundraising Ambassador for SteppingOut4Youth.

“My career has flourished due to my traineeship. It’s been eye opening to see how VET has equipped me for success.”

2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Donald Dundas

Vocation: Plumbing Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: Skillset Ltd
Hosted by: Warrumbungle Shire Council

Donald chose plumbing because he believes more Aboriginal people should be in the trade. Donald excels at all aspects of his job. His enthusiasm, leadership and specialist skill set has earned him the respect of staff and peers.

Whether it’s mentoring, communicating with the community or organising effective workflow, Donald leads by example. He has encouraged many local youths to become apprentices. Donald was awarded 2016 Team of the Year from Warrumbungle Shire Council.

“I’m a proud Aboriginal man driven to be a leader not only of my people, but to encourage all to have a go and better themselves.”

2017 School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

Mark Doughty

Trade: Horticulture - Parks and Gardens Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: Skyline Landscape Services Pty Ltd
School: McCarthy Catholic College Emu Plains

By the age of 14, Mark was running his own lawn mowing business. An energetic, determined and reliable apprentice, Mark loves giving back to his community. He performs voluntary landscaping at his school, in local parks and for St Vincent De Paul, Mt Druitt.

Due to timetabling clashes between school and training, Mark has to catch up on schoolwork independently. Despite these challenges, he is excelling academically and dreams of owning a premium landscaping business.

“I take great satisfaction in the transformative nature of my work. Comparing my before and after images drives me to gain more experience and knowledge.”

2017 Vocational Student of the Year

Liam Muldoon

Vocation: Automotive Mechanical Diagnosis Certificate IV
Trained by: TAFE NSW

Currently a fly-in-fly-out technician with Gold Fields Australia, Liam constantly identifies industry changes that require further training. Liam’s strategic study choices have equipped him with a unique skill set that’s highly sought after by employers.

For his Certificate IV, Liam studied remotely meeting his tutor face-to-face during his return home to Ballina. Despite juggling the demands of a young family, his enthusiasm and effort paid off. Liam is also passionate about training young apprentices and is recognised by his employer as a future leader.

“The skills I’ve gained from TAFE have set me on a very successful career path.”

2017 VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year

Darek Figa

Employed by: TAFE NSW

An inspiring TAFE teacher of Animal Studies since 1991, Darek’s innovative practice of behavioural enrichment supports animals in captive environments to live more enriched lives.

Instrumental in developing industry relationships with organisations such as Wildlife Sydney and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, Darek creates training opportunities that allow students to develop practical skills while assisting the enterprise they’re working for.

Since 2005, Darek has designed student immersion trips, which have grown to 2-week international study tours. These life-changing experiences have exposed students to an exciting range of species, modern conservation techniques and behavioural enrichment.

Darek is also Director of the Orangutan Foundation International Australia.

2017 VET in Schools Student of the Year

Rose Cox

Vocation: Hospitality - Kitchen Operations Certificate II
Trained by: Public Schools NSW, Ultimo
School: Strathfield Girls High School

Rose sees cooking as an art form where she can be experimental and expressive. As the primary carer for her mother and sister, Rose is a reliable, organised, problem solver and dedicated student. She displays advanced culinary skills and regularly demonstrates leadership during school catering events.

She successfully completed work placements at Novotel Darling Harbour and Steersons Steak House, where she’s been offered an apprenticeship.

A School Vice Captain and Zonta Young Women in Public Affairs winner, Rose sits on the NSW Carers Advisory Council, is an ambassador for the Kookaburra Kids Foundation and was a 2016 NSW Youth Parliamentarian.

Organisation Awards Category

2017 Industry Collaboration Award


Collaboration: Skills4Trade and Pledge250

Skillset - the largest youth employer in Central West NSW, created Skills4Trade to combat rising youth unemployment. More than just a training program, Skills4Trade provides high quality pre-vocational skills training through their collaboration with TAFE NSW and gives meaningful work trials and a supportive pathway to sustainable employment.

Skills4Trade also features YOUTH CONNECT, intensive support for young school leavers and their parents, and PLEDGE 250, an innovative jobs campaign encouraging the region’s employers to increase job opportunities for Skills4Trade graduates – 235 jobs have been pledged to date. In 2016, over 130 young people participated in Skills4Trade achieving an 85% completion rate.

2017 Large Employer of the Year

Shoalhaven City Council - Shoalhaven Water

Shoalhaven Water is responsible for water and sewerage facilities across 50,000 properties in the region. Shoalhaven Water’s traineeship program was designed to meet the challenges of changing technologies and an ageing workforce. In partnership with TAFE NSW Illawarra, trainees undertake certificate qualifications through a combination of workplace training and formal on-site study.

Trainees are also placed on a rotation schedule to gain all-round operations exposure. With 70% of graduates gaining full-time employment at Shoalhaven Water, vacant positions are seamlessly filled and young talent stays in the region – a number of graduates have already progressed to senior operator roles.

2017 Large Training Provider of the Year

BCA National Training Group Pty Ltd

BCA National Training Group provides specialised training in health and community services as well as business, education and government. Experienced in remote and rural delivery, BCA National makes education accessible to all Australians.

Flagship programs: The NSW Schools Program offers parents certificate training at their child’s school so they can support their children’s education and find related employment. Currently delivered in 24 schools, completion rates range between 77% and 93%.

The Indigenous Remote Service Delivery Traineeship offers management training and supported employment in remote Health and Aged Care Services. Completion rates average 82% with 70% of graduates gaining employment.

2017 Small Training Provider of the Year

Learning Sphere Training Solutions

Learning Sphere provides a pathway for youth, refugees, the unemployed, and Indigenous Australians to access employment in some of Australia’s largest industries.

An identified specialist in the cleaning and warehousing industries, Learning Sphere matches training to local employment opportunities in Blacktown.

Learning Sphere adopts a blended learning approach creating both live and pre-recorded training sessions to supplement face-to-face training. Students can access these digital learning and assessment tools, and even engage live with their trainer, from any location.

Key projects include training in mobile technology for the warehouse industry and Indigenous pre-employment training for cleaners with Lend Lease Barangaroo.

Special Industry Awards Category

2017 Excellence in Trade Skills

Bradley Ingham

Trade: Engineering - Mechanical Trade Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: Skillset Ltd
Hosted by: Hort Enterprises Pty Ltd

At only 17, Bradley moved 200 kms away from his family to commence his apprenticeship in Orange. Bradley soon showed exceptional aptitude for his trade impressing all with his maturity, resourcefulness and the high quality of his work.

A 2016 Skillset Apprentice of the Year, Bradley now works full-time for Hort Enterprises. And after winning silver at the National Worldskills competition, Bradley will represent Australia in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

“My apprenticeship helped me become the versatile tradesman I am today. Jumping on any machine, performing a task within a tight timeline and getting it right, gives me great satisfaction.”

2017 Excellence in Print Production, Sign Craft and Graphic Design

Frankie Abraham

Trade: Printing & Graphic Arts (Printing) Certificiate III
Trained by: Spectra Training Australia
Employed by: Visy Board Pty Ltd

After fleeing Nigeria in 2001, Frankie lived in New Zealand before moving to Australia. A Visy Board employee for several years, Frankie was encouraged to undertake further training by his employer.

Frankie’s ability to think outside the box offered solutions for production efficiency and sustainable work practices. He has developed exceptional communication skills, become self-reliant and successfully resolves safety, production and staffing issues. As a result of his training, Frankie was promoted to shift supervisor.

“You’re never too old to further your education. I’m a living example of how training can open up career pathways and opportunities for promotion.”

2017 Phil Darby Memorial Award - Encouragement Award for an Apprentice or Trainee

Carina Ardizzone

Trade: Business Services - Business Certificate III
Trained by: WPC Group Ltd
Employed by: WPC Group Ltd
Hosted by: Training Services NSW

After finishing school, Carina was living away from her family and struggling financially. She didn’t know which career she wanted to pursue and university seemed too expensive. She felt she had no future to look forward to.

Determined to invest in her personal and professional growth, Carina applied for a traineeship. Her traineeship gave her a qualification, industry experience and a taste of her future career, but most importantly, it changed her life.

Carina thrived on learning new information, problem solving and readily adapted to workplace challenges.

“My traineeship has given me new found hope and opened doors to endless possibilities.”

2017 Top Apprentice in Vehicle Trades

Joshua Terras

Trade: Automotive Mechanical Technology (Heavy Vehicle Mobile Equipment) Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: Komatsu Australia Pty Ltd

A 2016 Komatsu Apprentice of the Year, Joshua approaches situations with a level head and seeks practical solutions. Exhibiting a commitment to his industry that far exceeds his peers, he completed three trade qualifications during his apprenticeship.

Joshua’s wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm positively influences those around him. He now works at Komatsu’s Mount Thorley workshop diagnosing and repairing heavy machinery, often in remote areas. A gifted mentor, Joshua also trains young apprentices.

“My training has given me confidence, not just in my work but in my problem-solving abilities. I make the most of every opportunity to learn more.”

2017 Special Award for a Woman in a Non-Traditional Trade or Vocation

Helene Mortlock

Trade: Carpentry Certificate III
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: Paul Ryan Building Contractors

A wife and mother of three, Helene reinvented her career when her family ‘treechanged’ to Jerilderie. Her father, who has 60 years’ experience, offered her an apprenticeship. The only female in her carpentry class, Helene inspired her teachers by questioning the environmental impact of their methods and seeking sustainable alternatives.

Helene maximised her learning by undertaking an additional Certificate IV online. Undeterred by gender stereotypes, Helene leads by example encouraging young women to join the trade.

“It’s uncanny how my classroom training correlated with my on-the-job experience. I would learn a skill at TAFE then find myself applying it at work.”

2017 Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Michael Wilkinson

Trade: Telecommunications - Engineering Technology Certificate IV
Trained by: Ramsden Telecommunications Training Pty Ltd
Employed by: Programmed Skilled Workforce
Hosted by: Telstra

After seven years working in retail, Michael felt uninspired. That’s when he decided to reignite his childhood passion for technology and undertake a telecommunications designer traineeship – he hasn’t looked back.

During his hands-on field rotations, Michael received exceptional mentorship, which gave him insight into the Telstra network and supported his design work. Michael’s aptitude for acquiring new skills, diligent work ethic and natural leadership abilities have earned him a full-time role at Telstra.

“I’ve never been happier or so focused furthering on my career. This industry is constantly evolving. There’s so much innovation. So much to see, do and learn.”


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