2023 NSW Training Awards Winners

Meet the Award category winners of 2023.

Individual Awards Winners

2023 NSW Apprentice of the Year

2023 NSW Apprentice of the Year 2023 NSW Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Caroline Morris

Qualification: Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical Trade

Trained by: TAFE NSW

Employed by: Newcrest Mining Ltd

Region: Western NSW

As the first woman to complete a Fitter Machinist apprenticeship at her workplace in over 20 years, Caroline Morris is making waves. Now, she’s inspiring other young women to pursue trades.

Kicking off her Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade in 2019, Caroline loved the dynamic setting. “I worked on a variety of equipment: mill machinery, pumps and crushers – we need to be across it all,” she says.

Though she was excelling, Caroline experienced some barriers. “Being one of a few female apprentices is challenging,” she says. “I've encountered old-fashioned attitudes from some people. However, I don't pay much attention. I'm here to do my job like anyone else and I take pride in achieving my best.”

Now fully qualified, Caroline is making her voice heard in the hope of encouraging others. “I want to show young people, especially young girls, that there are great opportunities available for them in trades. Being trade-qualified opens doors for everyone.”



Justin Curley

Hunter & Central Coast

Thomas Eyre

Illawarra & South East NSW

Caitlyn Knox

Southern & South Western Sydney

Caroline Morris

Western NSW

Matthew Nott

New England

Raychel White

Western Sydney & Blue Mountains

2023 NSW Trainee of the Year

2023 NSW Trainee of the Year 2023 NSW Trainee of the Year

Winner: Bridie Searle

Qualification: Certificate IV in Project Management Practice

Trained by: Australian College of Commerce & Management

Employed by: Thales Australia Limited

Region: Central & Northern Sydney

In 2022, Bridie Searle had never been on a ship. Cut to today, and Bridie manages million-dollar maritime projects, something made possible through her vocational pathway.

At 17, Bridie began her Certificate IV in Project Management Practice. Her love of hands-on learning through school left no doubt in her mind that a VET pathway was for her. “The balance of theory and practical offers an unmatched training program – it was pivotal to my success.”

And she’s earned great respect along the way. “Bridie has fast-tracked her qualification and is now the most sought-after Project Superintendent within our company,” says Natalie Genc, Bridie’s Training & Capability Manager.

Bridie’s day-to-day role sees her working on Destroyers, guided missiles or being a crane co-ordinator – an incredible learning curve for someone her age. “When I reflect on the person and professional I’ve become during this traineeship, it fills me with pride. I’ve picked up so many skills that are transferable across multiple roles and industries.”



Benjamin Allen

Southern & South Western Sydney

Tahliah Duck

Illawarra & South East NSW

Mia Lewis

Western Sydney & Blue Mountains

Celina Pellett

Hunter & Central Coast

Bridie Searle

Central & Northern Sydney

Ciara Smith

North Coast & Mid North Coast

2023 NSW School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

2023 NSW School Based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year 2023 NSW School Based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year

Winner: Molly Smith

Qualification: Certificate III in Health Services Assistance

Trained by: TAFE NSW

Employed by: Hunter New England Local Health District

School: McCarthy Catholic College

Region: New England

Some people are hardwired to help others. Molly Smith is one of these gems and, after witnessing the incredible impact of nurses, she knew that she wanted to take on this profession.

This led her to a School-based Traineeship via a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance at a regional hospital. “It lets me study something I’m passionate about, but it’s also given me a place where I feel at home,” says Molly. “The team I work with makes me feel accepted for who I am.”

This realisation was a big deal for Molly, who has, at times, faced self-doubt and mental health challenges. “The support from my colleagues and teachers makes me believe in myself.”

With plans to become a Registered Nurse after university, Molly is already on track for her dream career. “Nursing has given me confidence, valuable skills and a sense of belonging – I’m excited about what my future holds.”



Fatusama Fuamatu

Southern & South Western Sydney

Caitlin Jolliffe


Molly Smith

New England

2023 NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

2023 NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year 2023 NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Winner: Aaliyah Morley

Qualification: Certificate III in School Based Education Support

Trained by: KARBEN Training Solutions

Employed by: Department of Education

School: Peel High School

Region: New England

Aaliyah Morley felt it was her responsibility to pursue a teaching qualification. “As a proud Gomeroi woman, I want to be part of the change,” she says. “I want to help close the education gap for Indigenous Peoples and link students with learning their local Gamilaraay language and culture.”

Aaliyah’s dedication to what she does has her balancing a full schedule. Alongside studying for the HSC, she has commitments to coaching, her community (through Indigenous dance and weaving), a role as a Student Representative and her Certificate III in School Based Education Sport, where she works at the local primary school and runs her own cultural activities at recess and lunch.

While her achievements have been personally rewarding, they also ripple throughout her community. “My qualification has impacted my students, my community and my family – I am the only one to achieve an SBAT, which encourages other young people to consider this pathway.”



Aaliyah Morley

New England

Jayden Simms

Illawarra & South East NSW

Jade Tapfield


2023 NSW Vocational Student of the Year

2023 NSW Vocational Student of the Year 2023 NSW Vocational Student of the Year

Winner: Tracie Wood

Qualification: Diploma of Project Management

Trained by: BSI Learning

Employed by: Department of Communities and Justice

Region: North Coast & Mid North Coast

Tracie Wood is passionate about helping people. In her career supporting offenders reintegrate into the community, she wanted to make an even greater impact, so she took on a Diploma of Project Management.

While doing her Diploma, Tracie was working as part of a team exploring ways digital technology could extend the reach of therapeutic services and she jumped at the chance to apply for a permanent position. “I was able to apply my learnings to the suitability assessment task as well as my responses to interview questions,” says Tracie. “I was absolutely delighted when I secured the role.”

Now, Tracie is studying a Bachelor of Criminal Justice while remaining focused on her role as Project Coordinator within the Innovation and Technology team.

And she’s also keen to inspire others to consider vocational pathways. “By completing my Diploma of Project Management, I’ve gained new skills, friends, confidence and I’ve progressed my career, too.”



Peter Hardy

Central & Northern Sydney

Nicholas Luttrell

Southern & South Western Sydney

Tracie Wood

North Coast & Mid North Coast

2023 NSW VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year

2023 NSW VET Trainer or Teacher of the Year 2023 NSW VET Trainer or Teacher of the Year

Winner: Colin Taranto

Field of Study: Timber System Design / Timber Frame or Truss Manufacture

Employed by: NTHA Training

Region: North Coast & Mid North Coast

Colin Taranto offers a wealth of expertise, a commitment to evolve with the industry and unwavering dedication to his students. As a trainer in Timber Systems Design, he goes the extra mile to ensure the highest standard.

With 39 years’ experience working across a range of timber manufacturing and design roles, Colin offers foundational knowledge while delivering up-to-date information. “Staying current with ever-changing technology, equipment and Australian Standards is key to developing assessment tools aligned with today’s practices,” says Colin.

Colin’s forward-thinking approach put him on the front foot when Covid disrupted face-to-face learning as he’d already been using video calls to deliver training sessions to trainees in various locations. “I was developing this pre-Covid, so when Covid arrived it was business as usual,” says Colin.

But where Colin shines is his level of commitment. “Supporting learners on their journey is critical to a successful outcome for both parties. It’s about building the relationship, rapport and trust we need over an 18-month period.”



Michael Farragher

Central & Northern Sydney

Geraldine Hodkinson

Western Sydney & Blue Mountains

Colin Taranto

North Coast & Mid North Coast

2023 NSW VET in Schools Student of the Year

2023 NSW VET in Schools Student of the Year 2023 NSW VET in Schools Student of the Year

Winner: Elizabeth King

Qualification: Certificate III in Health Services Assistance

Trained by: TAFE NSW

School: Oxley High School

Region: New England

Originally planning to be a paramedic, Elizabeth King stepped into a ward and knew she was destined to be a nurse. Balancing a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance with her final years of high school, she’s feeling empowered to move straight into the workforce.

“I fell in love with nursing,” says Elizabeth. “Every Monday I come home after my lessons bubbling and raving about my day – Mum calls it my ‘Monday sparkles’.” This can be put down to her connection with a passion and purpose, but also thanks to the dedication of her VET trainers, who have lit the way for her.

Elizabeth has found the qualification empowering on many levels. “The major highlight and advantage of this program is my personal growth,” says Elizabeth. “I’ve gained so much confidence and I have the advantage of leaving high school with a qualification so I can step straight into the workforce.”



Charlize Ashby

Central & Northern Sydney

Montayah Astruc

Western Sydney & Blue Mountains

Elizabeth King

New England

Organisation Awards Winners

2023 NSW Industry Collaboration Award

2023 NSW Industry Collaboration Award 2023 NSW Industry Collaboration Award

Winner: Coates Hire and Local Government NSW

Collaboration Title: Asbestos Related Work for Local Government

The clean-up of wild weather events frequently sees dangerous asbestos refuse dumped in public areas, highlighting an urgent need for those qualified to identify it. Thankfully, the Local Government of NSW, NSW Department of Education, Viable Training and Coates Training formed a working group to meet this need.

The working group developed a course that taught local government officers about identification, disposal treatment and PPE requirements of asbestos. As part of the roll-out, the Coates team travelled across NSW in a van containing all appropriate PPE, equipment and materials required under the units of competency, clocking up over 11,000kms to deliver this training to those in greatest need.

In 2022 and 2023, 998 local government workers from 30 NSW councils successfully completed the course. Training has continued with over 200 participants participating. Those who have undertaken the qualification are now not only more skilled, but they are equipped with knowledge that positively impacts their community as a whole.

2023 NSW Large Employer of the Year

2023 NSW Large Employer of the Year 2023 NSW Large Employer of the Year

Winner: Transdev Australasia Pty Ltd

For Transdev, training is seen not as a destination, but rather a continuous journey. As a transport provider that facilitates 50 million customer journeys every year, the value is clear.

Of Transdev’s 3500 NSW-based employees, 242 are involved in a nationally recognised apprenticeship or traineeship – roughly 8% of its workforce, which equates to an average of 3,419 hours per month spent in training.

As part of its commitment to education, Transdev has worked closely with leading RTOs to develop targeted training solutions for a number of cohorts including apprentices and trainees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and women in non-traditional roles.

After adding 13 electric buses to its fleet, the company is also upskilling its maintenance employees through technological updates with two nationally accredited skillsets.

While Transdev gains so much from its investment in employee development at a business level, the effect on employee confidence and wellbeing is just as rewarding.

2023 NSW Small Employer of the Year

2023 NSW Small Employer of the Year 2023 NSW Small Employer of the Year

Winner: Flow Smart Pty Ltd

As a business, productivity and profitability are essential for success. Flow Smart has found that both increase drastically with every apprenticeship and traineeship completed.

Providing efficient water solutions to agriculturalists, Flow Smart credits the 32 apprentices and trainees it has trained since 2005 with making the company what it is today.

Currently, 75% of the Flow Smart team is actively engaged in training with RTOs, in keeping with a key organisational objective to assist employees in furthering their education and excelling in their chosen field.

Recently, Flow Smart partnered with TAFE NSW to create a ‘Girls Can Too’ initiative, aimed at encouraging high-school girls to participate in non-traditional roles, resulting in applications to join the team.

Strong staff retention rates join the long list of wins the business attributes to its culture of education, including improving customer relationships, skill development, service refinement, productivity, profitability and ensuring that Flow Smart is excelling in its industry.

2023 NSW Large Training Provider of the Year

2023 NSW Large Training Provider of the Year 2023 NSW Large Training Provider of the Year

Winner: Enterprise & Training Company

The mission of Enterprise & Training Company (ETC) is to change people’s lives. Specialising in helping disadvantaged learners upskill and increase their employability, ETC has made a huge impact in its 30 years of business.

Rather than segmenting groups by diversity, ETC runs inclusive training courses that are fun, flexible and grounded in real-world experience so students can learn by doing. The specialised training programs are developed around local skills shortages and high-employing industries, which improves outcomes for ETC’s students.

Continually striving to be a leader in the vocational education and training sector, ETC is seeing top results. A compelling 90% of students achieved personal benefit from their training and 83% secured employment after completing training according to the VET Student Outcomes Snapshots of 2021. And, on a larger scale, ETC has helped many organisations reduce disadvantage and generate opportunity.

2023 NSW Small Training Provider of the Year

2023 NSW Small Training Provider of the Year 2023 NSW Small Training Provider of the Year

Winner: Fireground Pty Ltd

Fireground is working towards its objective of being a leading provider of fire and emergency training in Australia. By contextualising training to each organisation the business works with, Fireground adds value to clients’ existing resources and capabilities while enhancing their skills to adapt to future changes effectively.

In recent years, Fireground has expanded its focus to work with multiple Indigenous organisations to assist them in gaining skills, experience and recognised qualifications that could lead to careers in Fire and Emergency Management.

Fireground includes clients in development workshops to embed relevant and cutting-edge industry knowledge in all its training materials so students are future-ready. Similarly, it welcomes student feedback at all stages to hone future programs.

Fireground takes pride in collaborating with clients to ensure training provided meets the requirements of the training package, but also fulfils the needs of the organisation, the industry and, of course, the student.

Special Industry Awards Winners

2023 Women in Trades

2023 Women in Trades 2023 Women in Trades

Winner: Celina Pellett

Qualification: Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production)

Trained by: Tocal College

Employed by: GW & KM Forbes

Region: Hunter & Central Coast

Celina Pellet had concerns that her ‘city girl’ childhood would hold her back from excelling in agriculture. But, through her Certificate III in Agriculture (Dairy Production), Celina is thriving and eyeing her next moves in this field.

Throwing herself into the qualification, Celina went above and beyond to ensure she was at the top of her game. “I put my heart and soul into learning as much as possible about farm life,” she says. “I joined so many social media groups, watched online tutorials and sought out answers from nearby neighbours.”

This strategy perfectly complemented the foundation of learning provided by Celina’s qualification. “Being a kinaesthetic learner, the VET approach suited me.”

Now, Celina is planning to complete a Certificate IV in Agriculture and a Diploma of Agriculture simultaneously. “This pathway is where I’m meant to be. I’ve become more independent and gained the confidence to teach new employees.”


  • Skills

Business Unit:

  • Training Services NSW
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