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Congratulations to our 2021 Victorian Training Awards winners

On Saturday 16 October, winners of the 2021 Victorian Training Awards were announced in a virtual gala, celebrating the Vocational Education and Training sector's ongoing commitment, resilience and innovation in a year of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congratulations to all 2021 finalists and winners for showcasing our great sector. Learn more about them below.

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  • Andrew Jan

    Andrew Jan - 2021 Apprentice of the Year
    • Bendigo TAFE
    • Certificate III in Plumbing

    Andrew has had wide-ranging life experience prior to becoming a mature-aged apprentice in his 30s. He had an extensive career in the thoroughbred industry and, after 18 years as a volunteer firefighter, he has risen to the highest rank of Group Officer of the Coliban Group of the Country Fire Authority. In choosing to study a Certificate III in Plumbing at Bendigo TAFE, Andrew was motivated to find a career that provided both stability and an environment that challenged his innate curiosity and problem-solving skills.


    • Felicity Barnett – Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, The Gordon TAFE
    • Stephanie Pemberton – Certificate III in Parks and Gardens, South West TAFE
  • Samantha Brown

    Samantha Brown - Trainee of the Year
    • Federation University TAFE
    • Diploma of Nursing

    Always intrigued by nursing, Samantha realised when she finished high school that she wasn't ready to make a career choice. She sought work experience, working for several years as a conveyancer and then in a fast-paced role managing a top hotel in Ballarat. With her interest in nursing never waning, she tested the waters through the Traineeship model, first enrolling in a Certificate III of Individual and Ageing Support. This course convinced Samantha that she wanted to pursue a vocational training pathway, and she then enrolled in a Diploma of Nursing.


    • Emma Dreverman – Certificate III in Business, Squad
    • Jake Seuren – Certificate IV in Agriculture, TAFE Gippsland (Warragul Campus)
  • Samantha Daly

    Samantha Daly - Vocational Student of the Year
    • Swinburne University of Technology
    • Certificate IV in Mental Health

    Determined to find a silver lining after losing her job at the onset of the global pandemic, Samantha applied to study the dual Certificate IV in Mental Health and Mental Health Peer Work. Samantha spent the seven years prior rebuilding her life and recovering from a major brain injury. Inspired by her personal connections to mental health and using her unique lived experience of recovery, Samantha overcame initial fears and doubts about returning to study as a mature-aged student. She feels strongly about developing her theoretical knowledge and gaining practical expertise so that she can offer genuine help and meaningful support to others.


    • Josh Allison – Diploma of Sport Development, Box Hill Institute
    • Maria Kelly – Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design, Gordon Institute of TAFE
  • Laura Davidson

    Laura Davidson - School-based apprentice or trainee of the year
    • Sunraysia Institute of TAFE / Mildura Senior College
    • Certificate III in Hairdressing

    Laura Davidson has had a passion for hairdressing since she was nine years old, when she told the owner of her local salon that she wanted to work there one day. She taught herself braiding and other techniques by watching YouTube videos and practising on herself and her friends. In Year 9, she commenced a Certificate II in Salon Assistance, before beginning casual work at a boutique hair salon in Mildura. Laura lives in the south-west NSW town of Gol Gol and travels to Mildura for her schoolwork at Mildura Senior College, her training at Sunraysia Institute of TAFE Mildura and her practical work at the salon.


    • Massimo Zurzolo – Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology, Kangan Institute of TAFE – ACE/Montague Continuing Education Centre
    • Steven Hull – Certificate III in Agriculture, Murray Mallee Group Training/Castlemaine Secondary College
  • Lucas Price

    Lucas Price - Koorie Student of the Year
    • Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited
    • Certificate IV in Community Services

    A proud Gunditjmarra man from the Framlingham mission in Victoria's Western Districts with a deep connection to his community. Lucas was motivated to be in a position where he could use his lived experience to provide direct support to those in the community who are overrepresented in the justice system and who suffer from drug and alcohol addictions and intergenerational trauma.


    • Stephen Cranage – Certificate IV in Cyber Security, GOTAFE
    • Shaikhani Fewings – Certificate III in Commercial Cookery, Crown College
  • Julie Kramer

    Julie Kramer - Teacher/Trainer of the Year
    • Bendigo TAFE, Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Community Care)

    Julie tested the waters of teaching in 2011 by providing classroom support to students in a Certificate III for Aged Care qualification. After receiving brilliant feedback from the trainers in that course, Julie pursued a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and pursued an ongoing role as a teacher and trainer. Julie has a passion for learning styles and developing distinct teaching approaches for the different needs of the many students in her courses.


    • Scott Hopkins, SuniTAFE
    • Michelle McNab, GOTAFE
  • Swell Constructions

    Swell Constructions - 2021 VTA Small Employer of the Year

    Swell Constructions is a Melbourne-based construction company, passionate about blending modern design carpentry works with environmental sustainability. Through investment in quality training of its staff, Swell Constructions have built a flourishing work culture of care and precision, as well as making custom-built sustainable building more affordable. The company is serious about its own environmental responsibility, partnering with a leading environmental not-for-profit organisation, Greenfleet, to explore carbon offsets and other ways to reduce the environmental impact of its work.


    • Mansfield Armchair Cinema
    • Bellarine Bakehouse
  • CPE Construction

    CPE Construction - Medium Employer of the Year

    CPE Construction has used training as a central pillar of its growth from a company that built farm-style sheds to one that works on multi-million-dollar construction projects across Victoria. The company recognised the COVID-19 pandemic as an obstacle to some work but relished the opportunity to train staff, with 20 per cent of its staff currently enrolled in accredited training. This includes seven apprentices who are studying a Certificate III in either Plumbing or Steel Fabrication, and one HR Manager who is completing the double Advanced Diploma of Leadership and Management and HR.

  • Metro Trains

    Metro Trains - 2021 VTA Large Employer of the Year

    Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) is the franchise operator that runs and maintains Melbourne's world-class metropolitan rail network. It has over 6,400 employees and partners with the state government to deliver some of the key infrastructure projects currently being built in Melbourne, including the Metro Tunnel project. MTM works closely with Victoria's TAFE and training sector to recruit and train people in these skills shortage areas, ensuring that trainees are ready for specific roles at the completion of their training.


    • McDonalds Australia
    • Swan Plumbing Supplies
  • Terra Firma Laboratories

    Terra Firma Laboratories - Employer Award for Apprenticeship Development

    Terra Firma Laboratories conducts both field and laboratory analysis of geosynthetics, soil and rock materials for civil engineering and construction projects. It invests in training as a way of ensuring that staff can build a sustainable career in the construction materials testing industry, including being equipped with transferable skills in a rapidly changing sector. Terra Firma combines a theoretical training program with practical, on-the-job training, and facilitates its new trainees to gain a nationally recognised MSL40118 Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques.


    • Mercury Marine
    • Gforce and Barwon Water
  • Williamstown Community and Education Centre

    Williamstown Community and Education Centre - Community Training Provider of the Year

    Williamstown Community and Education Centre run community education and employment programs across five sites in Melbourne's western suburbs. The organisation prides itself on having increased the number and range of services on offer to the diverse community within the area in recent years. It provides traditional services such as digital literacy training and English Language programs for culturally and linguistically diverse learners, while also recently introducing innovative classes in yoga, meditation, acting and music.


    • Wellsprings for Women
    • Cire Services Inc
  • Box Hill Institute

    Box Hill Institute - 2021 VTA Inclusive Training Provider of the Year

    Box Hill Institute has focused on three main areas in seeking to become an inclusive training provider: partnerships with Disability Service Providers; applied research into universal design in vocational education; and ensuring that supports are in place for all students whether or not they disclose a disability.


    • Victoria University
    • Bendigo Kangan Institute
  • Builders Academy Australia

    Builders Academy of Australia - Small Training Provider of the Year

    Builders Academy Australia delivers accredited training for the building and construction industry, from vocational and educational training in high schools through to the Advanced Diploma level. Its training model places industry experience at the forefront of teaching, with a belief that builders make the best building teachers – much like the master and apprentice model. But it is committed to incorporating modern and varied styles of learning, including innovative virtual simulation of worksites, which became important when the COVID-19 pandemic prevented in-person learning.


    • NECA Education and Careers
    • Master Builders Association of Victoria
  • William Angliss Institute

    William Angliss - Large Training Provider of the Year

    William Angliss Institute is Australia’s largest specialist centre for foods, tourism, hospitality and events education and training. The Institute operates locally and internationally, delivering short courses and vocational training in schools through to certificate, diploma, degree and master’s programs across its campuses and workplaces in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and offshore. Recognising the impacts of COVID-19 in Asia early on during the global pandemic, the Institute was well prepared with its experience in Singapore and China to transition quickly in Australia to remote learning. Maintaining excellence for students included having its cookery teachers running practical demonstrations from their own home kitchens and welcoming over 100 guest lecturers from the industry.


    • Chisholm Institute
    • Box Hill Institute
  • CYP Design & Construction / Holmesglen Institute Collaboration

    Recognising that Victoria is experiencing one of the greatest infrastructure booms in the nation's history, three construction companies (Lendlease, John Holland and Bouygues) have partnered with Holmesglen to upskill Victorians to meet the needs of one of the major infrastructure projects in Victoria’s Big Build program, the Metro Tunnel Project. Its twin strategies are MetroHub, a project-specific jobs and training centre, and the Victorian Tunnelling Centre, a national-first tunnelling training centre that combines real-life machine training and simulated tunnelling training environments. Both strategies aim to make training more accessible to all people, including priority job seekers from disadvantaged backgrounds.


    • Wodonga TAFE, Transport Women Australia and Volvo Australia
    • Victoria Police Diversity Recruitment Program
  • Catherine Scarth

    Cath Scarth - 2021 Lynne Kosky Memorial Award Recipient

    Catherine Scarth’s career has focussed on the design and implementation of innovative social, education, employment programs and enterprises in Australia and the United Kingdom. She has achieved this through the creation of partnerships with government, employers and the community sector to deliver programs designed to increase the economic and social participation for newly arrived migrants and refugees.

    Ms Scarth is the Chief Executive Officer of AMES Australia, an organisation providing a wide range of interconnected settlement, education, vocational training and employment services in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania.

    Ms Scarth is a Board Member of Thrive Refugee Enterprises and Migration Council Australia.

  • People’s Choice Award – Apprentice of the Year

    Stephanie Pemberton

    • South West TAFE
    • Certificate III Parks and Gardens

    Stephanie was originally inspired in the vocational education sector by her love of hairdressing, until her world was turned upside down by realising that she had an allergy to hair-colouring products and had to make a career change. She fell into a contract position on the Parks and Garden team at her local Corangamite Shire Council, where she became enthralled by working outdoors in nature. Knowing she loved to learn and to teach others, she sought a TAFE qualification to learn from the best teachers in the industry and set herself up for the long-term.

    People’s Choice Award – Trainee of the Year

    Jake Seuren

    • TAFE Gippsland (Warragul Campus)
    • Certificate IV in Agriculture

    Jake liked and excelled in school and, after his final VCE exams, he considered what many thought to be the natural next step – a university degree. However, Jake realised that his love has always been to work on a farm like the one he grew up on in Gippsland. He says that he "loves working with animals, open spaces, machinery and the satisfaction of nurturing and growing the land." Jake chose vocational education to gain the required skills and knowledge to manage all aspects of his dairy farm operation.

Reviewed 12 November 2021

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