- 13 exceptional individuals and organisations named as WA Training Awards
- Central Regional TAFE awarded WA Large Training Provider of the Year
- Finalists showcase excellence in the vocational education and training sector
- Celebrating training and its role in supporting a strong WA workforce and economy
Thirteen of Western Australia's brightest training sector talents are celebrating a stellar win at this year's WA Training Awards, with eight individuals and five organisations named winners from 45 finalists at a ceremony at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Now in its 29th year, the WA Training Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of apprentices, trainees, employers and training organisations. Individual winners receive $3,000, which can be used to further their training or kick-start their career.
Selected from a record number of applications, this year's winners and finalists represent the diversity of talent in WA, spanning industries from nursing to cyber security, community services and defence, to agriculture, engineering, hospitality and business leadership.
Central Regional TAFE was named as WA Large Training Provider of the Year 2023, and was among the five organisation winners that were recognised as industry leaders and important contributors to the skilling of WA's workforce.
WA Apprentice of the Year 2023, Amy Hunt (Kingsley), was celebrated for her commitment to safety, and the leadership and communication skills she brings to her work with her employer Western Power as the only woman and the youngest cable jointer at her worksite.
Having a close relationship with her father, a panel beater, and her brother, a sign writer, inspired Amy to follow in their footsteps and pursue a similar lifestyle through a trade apprenticeship in the power industry, training for a Certificate III in ESI – Power Systems – Distribution Cable Jointing with Power Training Services.
Amy's experience working in a fast-changing environment and on low and high voltage electrical cables will see her powering ahead as part of a selection of WA Training Award winners who will represent WA at the Australian Training Awards in Hobart on Friday, 17 November 2023.
Among the group will be WA Trainer of the Year 2023 winner, Holly Gudsell (Craigie), who was compelled to change her career direction to Aboriginal education after her experience teaching at a remote Aboriginal community in Fitzroy Crossing.
While lecturing in Education Support at North Metropolitan TAFE, Holly was approached to develop and deliver a new program for the Department of Education to upskill Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Officers (AIEOs) across Perth Metropolitan Schools.
Holly's delivery of a "mixed-mode" course which successfully supported Aboriginal students through the Certificate III and IV in Education Support has helped her reach new heights as a star of the 2023 WA Training Awards.
The 2023 WA Training Awards are made possible thanks to continuing support from awards partner the State Training Board, prinicpal sponsor MEGT, and sponsors Training Accreditation Council WA, Apprenticeship Support Australia powered by CCIWA, Construction Training Fund, Maxima, and the Electrical and Communications Association of Western Australia.
Find out more at https://www.dtwd.wa.gov.au/watrainingawards/.
Comments attributed to Training Minister Simone McGurk:
"Now in its 29th year, the WA Training Awards have a long and distinguished history of fostering and celebrating success in vocational education and training.
"Congratulations to all of this year's winners - their dedication to their training is outstanding and their successes highlight the many opportunities available through vocational training.
"The WA Training Awards profile the enormous range of skills training offered and its importance in developing highly skilled people who can walk into jobs that are both rewarding and diverse.
"Our Government continues to invest heavily in skills and training and this combined with a high demand for skilled workers across the State make it an exciting time for WA students, job seekers and career changers."
WA Training Awards 2023 winner profiles
WA Trainer of the Year 2023
Holly Gudsell – Craigie
Lecturer – North Metropolitan TAFE Certificate III and IV in Education Support
A teaching position in a remote Aboriginal community in Fitzroy Crossing was the catalyst for a change in career direction for Holly, as she discovered an interest in Aboriginal education.
Having previously worked as a teacher and then abroad teaching English in Kenya and China, it was while lecturing in Education Support at North Metropolitan TAFE that Holly was approached to develop and deliver a new program for the Department of Education to upskill Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Officers (AIEOs) across Perth Metropolitan Schools.
Here she delivered a "mixed-mode" course which successfully supported Aboriginal students through the Certificate III and IV in Education Support.
WA International Student of the Year 2023
Federica Ceretta – High
Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
Trained at: Australian Institute of Workplace Training
Despite a love of caring for and working with children, there were limited opportunities for Federica to pursue this as a career in her home country of Italy. Coming to Australia was the realisation of a long-held ambition, which she first announced to her parents at the age of six.
Federica started working as an au pair in Perth and travelled all over Australia, but says Perth is the place she loves the most and calls home.
She says studying for her dream job in Perth helped to change her life and only six months after qualifying she has moved from being an educator to an assistant director at the childcare centre where she works.
WA Cultural Diversity Training Award 2023
Olga Hurina – Duncraig
Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety
Employed by: Gold Corporation
Trained at: North Metropolitan TAFE
In March 2022, Olga made the difficult decision to move to Western Australia from Ukraine on a humanitarian visa after the outbreak of war. Her husband encouraged her to make the journey, even though he could not leave due to the national ban on men emigrating.
Olga chose her course because she had experience in legal compliance in Ukraine and wanted to contribute to safer working environments.
So determined was she to perfect her English, that she recently moved from living with her sister-in-law to an Australian host family who did not speak her language, and says they have been like second parents to her.
WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year 2023
Anthony Nelson-Burns –
Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade
Trained by: Australian Skills Group Pty Ltd
Employed by: Fortescue (FMG) Mining
Completing a Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade with Fortescue Mining was life-changing for Anthony. It has provided him with newfound confidence, personal and professional growth as well as allowing him to become a mentor to his children.
Having received unwavering support from his employer and lecturers at Australian Skills Group during personal hardships, he was able to navigate through and successfully progress his studies to complete his apprenticeship.
The experience has helped shape the person he has become – capable, empathetic and resourceful. He is now ready to tackle any obstacles and plans on continuing his training pathway in engineering.
WA Vocational Student of the Year 2023
Kai Baharthah-King –
Advanced Diploma in Cybersecurity
Trained at: North Metropolitan TAFE
In these days of heightened digital security awareness, Kai was an early starter in the industry. Being home-schooled, he attended cyber security workshops and was able to satisfy his thirst for knowledge by completing multiple online courses and competitions.
First enrolling in TAFE at the age of 15 to complete his Certificate III, he progressed through to the Advanced Diploma and secured a part time job as a security analyst at Woodside, following a recommendation from his lecturer at only 16.
Now full time at Woodside, he is the youngest security analyst on staff and cites attending the AISA conference in Melbourne – where he was a national cybersecurity finalist – as a particular highlight.
WA Trainee of the Year 2023
Hannah Morrison – Toodyay
Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
Employed by: Toodyay Early Learning Centre
Trained at: Central Regional TAFE
When being away from home at university was not working out for her, Hannah looked to her local TAFE to be close to home. While at school, she had been deeply affected by a trip to the Philippines where she had witnessed how different the lives of young people were and it inspired her to pursue her new career path.
Following her passion for working with children and advocating for children's rights, she applied for a three-month trial at Toodyay Early Learning Centre and after only four days in the role was offered a full time traineeship.
Hannah now enjoys presenting at the TAFE where she once studied, to inspire future educators to the sector.
WA School-based Apprentice of the Year 2023
Robert Nicolosi – Kewdale
Certificate III in Sport and Recreation
Trained at: North Metropolitan TAFE
Employed by: BlueFit – Leisure Employment Australia
Robert's love for sport and fitness was the motivation behind him undertaking a traineeship with Leisure Employment Australia. While working at BlueFit – Belmont Leisure Centre, Robert has gained a range of new skills while completing a Certificate III in Sport and Recreation.
Described by his employer as a team player and leader, and the only trainee kids sport coordinator they have ever had, speaks volumes about Robert's willingness to learn and lead.
Robert is well on his way to fulfilling his career aspirations of becoming a physical education teacher.
WA Apprentice of the Year 2023
Amy Hunt – Kingsley
Certificate III in ESI – Power Systems – Distribution Cable Jointing
Employed by: Western Power
Trained at: Power Training Services
Having a close relationship with her father, a panel beater, and her brother, a sign writer, inspired Amy to follow in their footsteps and pursue a similar lifestyle through a trade apprenticeship.
Amy's interests, however, were in the power industry – a fast-changing environment she knew she would enjoy. She cites her experience working on low and high voltage electrical cables as having opened her eyes to the implicit value of safety; both on an individual level and within a team.
As the only female and the youngest cable jointer at her worksite, she also credits her training experience with enhancing her leadership and communication skills.
Small Employer of the Year
EK Contracting was established in 2019 to service WA in the civil and mining sector and is owned by a dynamic trio including an Indigenous ex Olympic weightlifting champion, a Nyiyaparli Traditional Owner, and a Pilbara School Teacher.
Their vision is clear – generate a steady work stream to upskill workers and offer career advancement opportunities to ensure everyone has an opportunity to shine. EK offers training and employment opportunities to Indigenous people across WA through its connections with Indigenous land groups and organisations.
Large Employer of the Year
McDonald's Australia, WA
McDonald's is proud to provide its employees with opportunities to grow, seeing training and development as an investment, not a cost. The organisation upholds strict standards to ensure employees are fully trained in each area of restaurant operations – from serving customers to performing equipment maintenance tasks.
A career at McDonald's does not end in the restaurants. There are corporate office opportunities, with thorough internal training and development, and policies for regular job rotation. With a practical approach to continuous improvement, McDonald's aims to foster a culture of lifelong learning and employees are actively encouraged to participate in both professional and personal development activities.
Industry Collaboration Award
Defence Industry Pathways
Program – A Maritime Defence Industry Collaboration
South Metropolitan TAFE
The Defence Industry Pathways Program is an innovative industry collaboration designed to develop and ensure a pipeline of skilled workers for Australia's defence industry. The idea of a 'gap year' program was conceived at an industry round table in July 2020, with the defence industry identifying a critical need to build talent through a vocational education and training (VET) program.
The 12-month 'taster' program was designed to provide graduates with a broad understanding of the maritime defence industry through work placements focusing on career pathway options in the industry. In 2023, the program has 32 maritime Defence-host employers.
Small Training Provider of the Year
WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin
The WA College of Agriculture, Cunderdin has a long-standing reputation for achieving exceptional VET outcomes through developing highly-skilled and employable graduates.
The college offers training opportunities that enhance the learning of all students, have a blend of theory and practical, and a variety of courses that are relevant, interesting, engaging and support students to transition into a large variety of industries and pathways, inclusive of the agriculture and allied industries.
Training is conducted between the commercial farm of 4,000 hectares and state-of-the-art Trade Training Centre, with focus on excellence through innovation, passion and collaboration for all students, and strengthening the primary and trades industries.
Large Training Provider of the Year
Central Regional TAFE
Greater in area than the Northern Territory, Central Regional TAFE has the largest geographical footprint of all the TAFEs in Western Australia, encompassing 1.55 million square kilometres, or 58% of Western Australia.
This footprint comes with some unique challenges in supporting students, staff and industry across a wide area of Western Australia, but also provides opportunities for a diverse set of training products to accommodate the distinctive geographical conditions associated with the central region of Western Australia.
Strong industry partnerships in the region have enabled the organisation to offer local, distinctive courses with over 9,000 students unlocking their learning potential in 2022.