2021 NSW Training Awards Winners - Individual

Meet the Individual Award category winners of 2021.

2021 NSW Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Troy Harris

Qualification: Certificate III in Plumbing
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: A P Bathrooms
Region: Western Sydney & Blue Mountains Region

After working many desk jobs, Troy yearned for a hands-on career. With a growing family, he also sought job security. Coming from a family of tradespeople, plumbing was in his blood.

At TAFE NSW, Troy enjoyed exploring different aspects of the trade, engaging in class discussions about new techniques, and gaining practical insights from his skilful trainers.

At work, Troy went from assistant to head plumber. He attributes his success to the knowledgeable tradespeople he worked alongside.

Having been diagnosed with dyslexia as a child, Troy is thankful for the various learning approaches offered by VET. He adopted a hands-on, visual approach and engaged in class discussions to gain understanding.

I wouldn’t be where I am without VET. I have the skills and confidence to work in an industry I value and enjoy. As a mature age apprentice, I hope to inspire people wanting to start a trade later in life.

2021 NSW Trainee of the Year

Winner: Megan Cox

Region: Central & Northern Sydney Region
Qualification: Certificate IV in Information Technology
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: PwC Services

Megan’s interest in IT was piqued while hearing successful female innovators speak at a future of female leadership forum.

She was accepted into PwC’s Higher Apprenticeship Program, which combined with TAFE NSW training, coaches school leavers in business and IT.

Megan initially found it difficult to adjust and experienced anxiety. With the support of her training provider’s mental health services, she was soon excelling in PwC’s high-pressure, fast-paced work environment.

Megan displayed unwavering dedication to her studies and notched up impressive work achievements.

At 18, she presented to the board about employee mental health, completed a client secondment working across time zones and cultures and contributed to committees on gender equality, women in IT and the future of training.

Being surrounded by successful women changed my life. I’ve worked with experienced professionals from around the world who’ve become amazing mentors. Straight out of school, I’ve launched my career without university debt.

Alexia Lara Illawarra & South East NSW Region
Charis Inoc Riverina Region
Jack Ackling New England Region
James White Western NSW Region
Laura Walker North Coast & Mid North Coast Region
Megan Cox Central & Northern Sydney Region

2021 NSW School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

Winner: Chelsea McInnes

Region: North Coast & Mid North Coast Region
Qualification: Certificate II in Hospitality
Trained by: Public Schools NSW, Tamworth
Employed by: The Trident Fish & Grill
School: Alstonville High School

Chelsea’s enthusiasm and passion for the hospitality industry shines brightly.

Starting out, Chelsea only knew basic customer service. Her School-Based Traineeship at The Trident Fish and Grill taught her everything about food, cooking, customer service, business management, and ethical business.

A born leader who builds a positive workplace culture and presents food at a high standard, Chelsea is now their short-order cook running an efficient front of house team and training junior staff.

Chelsea had to use her initiative from a young age. She started working at 14 to help support her single-parent family. Facing challenges gave her strength that she’s carried into adult life.

My SBAT was the best career move. It’s increased my confidence and wellbeing. If you’re looking to have it all – your HSC, extra qualifications and paid work, I highly recommend it! I’ve gained a mentor and a serious head start in a career I love.

Name Region
Chelsea McInnes North Coast & Mid North Coast Region
Hannah Walker Riverina Region
Tyler Pockran Central & Northern Sydney Region

2021 NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Winner: Adam Hansen

Region: Southern & South Western Sydney Region
Qualification: Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: 3Bridges Community

A proud Noongar man from Western Australia, Adam now calls Sydney home.

With a unique capacity to mentor, inspire and empower young people, for over 10 years, Adam has worked with high schools to encourage Aboriginal participation in education and delivered workshops on Aboriginal cultural competency.

Upon discovering there was a TAFE NSW qualification that would allow him to facilitate workshops at a higher level, he jumped at it.

Through his studies, Adam experienced a huge boost in confidence and solidified the belief that his work is of major benefit to the community.

Upon qualifying, Adam was promoted to Aboriginal education coordinator at 3Bridges Community.

VET gave me the long-desired opportunity to step up professionally. I’m passionate and proud to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians by sharing my culture. My daughter and extended family know that if I can study VET and succeed, so can they.

2021 NSW Vocational Student of the Year

Winner: Gabriella Adeline

Region: Central & Northern Sydney Region
Qualification: Certificate IV in Patisserie
Trained by: TAFE NSW
Employed by: Woodcut Restaurant

After graduating from university with a psychology degree, Gabriella felt uninspired by her career options. She decided to start again and build an exciting career pursuing her passion – pastry.

Gabriella learnt from approachable and supportive industry experts who recommended her for multiple industry opportunities and encouraged her to excel.

When Gabriella’s apprenticeship at the high-profile Hilton was cancelled due to COVID-19, Gabriella turned again to her trainers. Within three weeks, she’d undertaken two trials and received two job offers! She now resumes her apprenticeship at the illustrious restaurant Woodcut in Barangaroo.

Gabriella is proud to be selected for the Australian Pastry World Cup Team, where she’ll represent Australia at a global competition in Milan. She’s excited to showcase high-quality, native Australian ingredients to the world.

VET has changed my life. I’ve found my purpose. I get to combine my passion for food and creativity while establishing an amazing career.

Name Region
Gabriella Adeline Central & Northern Sydney Region
Rhiannan McDonald Western NSW Region
William Gasciogne Illawarra & South East NSW Region

2021 NSW VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year

Winner: Erin Jacob

Region: Hunter & Central Coast Region
Field of study: Horticulture
Employed by: Central Coast Community College

Erin designs trauma-informed programs for students who’ve experienced hardship.

Her innovative Step Forward and Keep on Stepping programs at Central Coast Community College successfully re-engage individuals in learning and facilitate pathways to education and employment.

Students are typically unemployed, at risk of homelessness and/or escaping domestic violence. With a focus on work-based skills and art therapy, students can also test drive jobs in business, IT, retail, and hospitality.

During COVID-19, Erin quickly navigated the delivery of online learning. Her trainers delivered real-life demonstrations to hundreds of at-risk participants boosting their wellbeing during this distressing period.

Due to Erin’s hard work, the college received a substantial contribution from the NSW Government to create the Step Forward Learning Centre, a safe space for trauma survivors.

We experience one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in Australia. I’m dedicated to supporting our vulnerable young by creating a safe, understanding environment in which they can learn.

Name Region
Erin Jacob Hunter & Central Coast Region
Kim Roberts Riverina Region
Robyn Edwards Illawarra & South East NSW Region


2021 NSW VET in Schools Student of the Year

Winner: Ethan Zammit

Region: Western Sydney and Blue Mountains Region
Qualification: Certificate III in Live Production and Services
Trained by: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
School: St Mark's Catholic College

VET has opened up a world of professional entertainment opportunities for Ethan.

Ethan maintains a calm professional demeanour as he juggles competing events. He manages audiovisual budgets, equipment maintenance, and the set up and pack down of functions, concerts and expos. He loves operating sound and lighting for plays and drama/music exams.

The Parish of St John XXIII recognised Ethan’s expertise and talent by appointing him AV Coordinator. He’s the first young adult to fill the role.

During COVID-19, Ethan devised innovative ways to run events and broadcast the parish’s mass via live stream.

Ethan volunteers for the Sovereign Order of Malta Australia providing Parramatta’s homeless with clothing and hygiene products.

A standard HSC to university pathway isn't always the best option. Without alternative pathways, people like me may slip through the cracks. VET gave me crucial industry connections and empowered me to become a valuable contributor to society.

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