Hunter high achievers take out local awards

Three Hunter apprentices achieved top honours at the 2017 HVTC Excellence Awards held at Noah’s on the Beach in Newcastle on Friday night.

Singleton local, Samuel Russell, was awarded Registered Training Organisation (RTO) Student of the Year for the consistently high quality of his practical work and admirable attitude to theory.

The 28 year old electrical apprentice is employed by Glencore, Ravensworth and participated in their Cross Skilling Work Readiness Program at the HVTC Skills Centre in Rutherford.

During the Engineering - Mechanical Trade training he displayed an exemplary attitude to work, safety and attendance, and his leadership qualities saw him take on a mentoring role with others in his group.

"Though I am an electrical apprentice, the fabrication and machining skills I developed through HVTC have been most useful. The quality and content of the instruction given to me by the HVTC instructors was of the highest class and I regularly call upon those techniques in my workplace," said Sam.

Sam’s inquisitive, methodical approach to work also led to him representing Glencore’s NSW mines in Queensland at the Glencore Apprentice Skills Challenge where he was a standout performer.

"I think my previous employment set me up for success in my new career path. I've been able to adapt some of the lessons learnt from other situations to assist with my approach to tasks and learning opportunities. This helps me to make the most of the trade experiences provided by Glencore and HVTC.

"Making a life change such as becoming a mature age apprentice can be a challenge but I have been able to achieve some good grades and outcomes, in no small part due to the support of my wife and young family at home. Their continued encouragement will help me make a successful career in a field I am enjoying very much," he said.

Another Singleton resident, Emma Gibson, won the Woman in Non-traditional Trade Apprentice of the Year category.

In the fourth year of her Certificate III Engineering – Mechanical Trade, Emma has excelled in the area of machining and loves the challenge of the fine detailed work it provides. She also shone in the theory and practical components of fitting whilst completing her studies at the HVTC Skills Centre. 

Growing up on a small family property, Emma said she has always enjoyed the outdoors and at a young age developed an interest in cars, trucks, and machinery.

“My father is a fitter machinist by trade and from an early age I could be found in the shed with him asking questions and fascinated to learn more. I enjoyed hands on projects and challenging myself to understand how things worked.

“I always admired my father’s knowledge in the trade and was inspired by both my hard working and supportive parents who taught me that I could achieve whatever it is I put my mind to. This cemented my decision to apply for a fitter machinist apprenticeship,” the 22 year old said.

Hosted by Select Plant Hire in Telarah, Emma has been an ambassador for women in trades winning the 2016 Hunter Manufacturing Awards’ Apprentice of the Year, and a Tradesperson Scholarship at the 2015 National Association of Women in Construction Awards. 

“Whilst there are still some challenges facing women in non-traditional trades, I hope my success will inspire other women to erase stereotypes and chase their goals,” said Emma.

The prestigious Apprentice of the Year Award was won by 25 year old Ben McDonald from Cessnock.

“In 2012 I was inspired to follow in my father and great grandfather’s footsteps so I applied for an electrical apprenticeship through HVTC. Growing up in the mining town of Cessnock also helped with the decision to accept a position with host employer Peabody at their Jerry’s Plains site,” said Ben.

Now in the final year of his Certificate III Electrotechnology - Electrician training, Ben has performed above expectations throughout his apprenticeship.

Also a student at the HVTC Skills Centre, Ben believes that his RTO and host employer’s shared emphasis on quality and safety prepared him well.

“I learnt the core theories and laws behind the electrical trade and how to go about my work in a safe manner, both individually and in a team environment.

“One of the greatest personal achievements of my apprenticeship was obtaining a 100% score in my capstone theory course. This was something I really wanted to do well in and when I came home and told my mum my result she cried,” he said. 

No stranger to recognition, Ben has previously been awarded a Hunter TAFE Encouragement Award, Cessnock City Council Mayoral Scholarship, and was invited to attend the national Today’s Skills: Tomorrow’s Leaders Program in Canberra.

Winners in the ten Excellence Award categories were selected from finalists across HVTC’s ten regional branches located throughout New South Wales.

HVTC CEO Sharon Smith says vocational education pathways can lead to career success for many young people.

“These awards not only celebrate the great results of our apprentices and trainees but they also reflect the significant role our business and industry partners play in making sure our young people secure quality employment outcomes,” Ms Smith said.

The RTO Student of the Year Award was sponsored by Days Machinery Centre, the Woman in Non-traditional Trade Apprentice of the Year Award was sponsored by Viatek, and the Apprentice of the Year Award was sponsored by Howden Australia.

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Image: Ben McDonald, Emma Gibson & Sam Russell