Skillset Stars Shine at Glittering 35th Awards Gala

Skillset Stars Shine at Glittering 35th Awards Gala

Skillset Limited celebrated a huge milestone at the iconic Flannery Centre in Bathurst on Thursday evening by holding its ’35 Years Strong” Gala Awards dinner.

This year, Skillset celebrated its 35th year of operations which has seen thousands of young lives in our regions changed and supported through pivotal moments in their careers as they embark on apprenticeships, traineeships or just taking those first steps in their career. Skillset are proud to have supported over 6,000 apprentices and trainees to completion across central west and western NSW.

This milestone was celebrated in conjunction with our annual awards ceremony which celebrates the outstanding young talent in all facets of our business. From apprentices and trainees of our Workforce business unit, to prominent young achievers in the Green Army program of our Environment Unit, and outstanding community volunteer support for our Education unit, just to name a few.

Skillset was established in 1982 by Bathurst, Orange, Blayney, Parkes, Lithgow and Dubbo Councils and Chambers of Commerce, to help regional businesses by supplying them with apprentices. Central West Group Apprentices, as it was then known, employed one staff member and just 22 apprentices in the first year of operation.

Since then Skillset has developed three major business units to answer the calling to service more than just apprentices, but to educate and empower our local communities and even to support disengaged youth to transition back to school, training or the workforce. Skillset has achieved this over the years by introducing our diverse business units and programs to achieve this goal: Skillset Senior College, Skillset Workforce Recruitment, Skills and Engagement and Skillset Environment Land Works. Skillset are currently providing jobs and skills to over 400 employees.

Skillset Chair David Cooke said it was an important milestone for the organisation and a great opportunity to recognise so many who have contributed. “This is just a such a fitting grand finale for our 35 Years Strong anniversary year. To be celebrating the individuals, businesses and organisations who have made outstanding achievements or contributions is very special. It is a privilege to be in a position to have such a positive impact on both people’s lives and the organisations we work with, and we look forward to continuing our important work for another 35 years.”

The top Apprentice and Trainee of the Year Awards were taken out by Graphic Pre-Press apprentice Laura Burgett, hosted by Spatial Services Bathurst, Community Services trainee Maddison Griffiths-Leonard, hosted by Centacare Orange, and Plumbing apprentice Donald Dundas, hosted by Warrumbungle Shire Council.

Storco Storage Systems and PJL Group, both from Orange took out Skillset Workforce Host Awards, with Moolarben Coal winning the Skillset Workforce Jim Todman Safety Award, and Interact Injury Management the Skillset Workforce Partnership Award.

Skillset Environment recognised outstanding individuals and organisations from their Green Army program over the last 12 months, with Eurobodalla Team Supervisor Damon Lane and Participant Billy-Ray Davis-Wilson, the Kalyarr Team, participant Thomas Kennedy, Holbrook Landcare Network and Central West Lachlan Landcare all receiving awards.

Skillset Education Awards went to Youth Connect participant Sam Hampton, Skillset Senior College volunteer Helen McGoldrick and Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre in recognition of the support they have provided to Skillset Senior College students.

Skillset Workforce Operations and Return to Work Manager Anthea Koehn received the Skillset Service Award.

Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo paid tribute to the staff, and credited them and the innovative range of services for the organisation’s longevity and success “Just tonight we have launched the Skillset Workforce 2017 Pledge250 Jobs Campaign, and the Skillset Environment Land Works Service, as well as celebrating our first year of Year 12 students at Skillset Senior College, and Skills4Trade and Youth Connect Programs. You can’t do this without staff who are willing to embrace innovation, and are committed to delivering excellence in everything they do. We are very much the sum of our parts and I thank each and every one of them for their passion and hard work.”


WorldSkills Medal for Bradley Ingham

WorldSkills Medal for Bradley Ingham

Photo by WorldSkills. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Central West Fitter Machinist Bradley Ingham, who completed his apprenticeship recently with Skillset Workforce has won a Silver Medal at the Worldskills competition in Abu Dhabi overnight.

The Australian team of 43 trades people won a total of 4 medals; 2 silver and 2 bronze, which saw them finish 10th overall in the competition, that comprised 3000 participants including competitors, experts and officials, from 77 countries competing in 51 skills.

To make Brad’s medal winning performance even more incredible, the gold medal winner in his category, Biao Song from China, went on to win the Albert Vidal Award, which recognises the competitor that achieves the overall highest score out of all competitors in all Skill categories.

Brad says he is stoked by his result. “I was shockingly nervous but it’s incredible,” he said. “I knew I was sort of up there a bit but wasn’t expecting a silver medal, it’s awesome. Time for a beer.”

Brad was hosted by Hort Enterprises in Orange, where he now works as a fully qualified tradesman. Engineering Manager at Hort Enterprises Chris Hutchinson said “ Hort Enterprises is extremely proud of his achievements. From day one Brad has shown great aptitude for the trade, and has always applied himself and taken pride in his work. Training and developing apprentices to be the best is a passion at Hort Enterprises, and Brad is definitely one of the best.”

Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo says the win is an extraordinary achievement and highlights the opportunities available to those pursuing a trade or skill “Brad has done us all proud and we are just thrilled for him. This is a well-deserved recognition of his skills and hard work. It demonstrates just how far an apprenticeship can take you. We love supporting our apprentices through their journey, and seeing them achieve at such a high level”.

To see all the WorldSkills photos go to by WorldSkills Australia. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


Golden Trowel Win.

Golden Trowel Win.

Two Bathurst apprentices have paved their way to victory and claimed the title as Australia’s best bricklayers, at the coveted Golden Trowel Competition in Sydney this week.

Apprentices Kevin Sawdy and Michael Ingwerson, with the support of TAFE NSW teacher Dooley Thompson, were tasked with building a concrete structure with intricate detailing over the course of the intensive two-day event. They were judged on their precision, craftsmanship and conformity to the design specifications.

“The boys nailed it. They used their time really well, we were the only team to complete the whole task. They were really professional and worked like tradesmen rather than apprentices. I am so proud of them,” Mr Thompson said.

Kevin is employed by Skillset Workforce (hosted by Jim Grives) and Michael is employed by Jamie Stevens. Both men thanked their employers, workplace mentors and TAFE NSW for the opportunities, support and training they have received. “It has been a great experience, and I have learnt a lot”, said Michael, with Kevin adding “If anyone ever gets the chance to do something like this just do it!”

Kevin has been nominated to receive the Apprentice of the Year Award at the Australia Brick & Block Training Foundation awards in Sydney on November 3rd.

Skillset Workforce Senior Manager, Jane McWilliam said “Kevin is an outstanding young apprentice and it is rewarding to see his hard work pay off. The support he receives in the workplace has been critical to his development and none of that would happen without his wonderful host and mentor Jim Grives”

Dudley Salter, General Manager of Bathurst Concrete Products (BCP) who were the major industry sponsor of this event said “By investing in apprentices, we are investing in our future. We are committed to developing the trade so the industry can continue to grow and be strong. These young people are our future”.

The Golden Trowel is hosted by the Concrete Masonry Association of Australia (CMAA) and the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF) in collaboration with TAFE NSW.

Skillset Workforce Success at 2017 NSW/ACT AEN Awards

Skillset Workforce Success at 2017 NSW/ACT AEN Awards


Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo, Skillset Workforce Consultant Rodney Ney, Winner Indigenous Apprentice Donald Dundas, Skillset Workforce Regional Manager Amanda Ferguson and Spatial Services Manager (representing apprentice Laura Burgett)– Matt McRobert.

Skillset Workforce apprentices Laura Burgett and Donald Dundas were recognised at the gala Apprentice Employment Network (AEN) 2017 Awards in Sydney last Friday night.

The Awards recognise outstanding achievements in the vocational education and training sector. Laura, a Graphic PrePress Apprentice with Spatial Services in Bathurst was a finalist in the Apprentice of the Year Award, while Donald, a Plumbing Apprentice with Warrumbungle Shire Council won the Indigenous Apprentice of the Year Award.

Skillset Chief Executive Officer, Craig Randazzo, who attended the Awards praised the apprentices and the high level of achievement. “The quality of the competition at these awards is extraordinary. Every one of these young people have demonstrated not only a commitment to achieving excellence in their chosen vocation, but also a commitment to their workplace and community. We are incredibly proud to have had these talented young people working for us and giving their best to their host workplaces. They are the future, and we are in very safe hands.”

In his speech Donald said he was honoured to receive the award and to be taking a leadership role in his community: “never be afraid to have a go or try something new, and if you make mistakes don’t worry – that’s how you learn”. He also thanked his host Warrumbungle Shire Council, and employer Skillset Workforce for the opportunities and support they had provided him with.

Donald has now received two awards at state level, last month winning the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at the 2017 NSW State Training Awards. Donald will now be a finalist in both the Australian Training Awards Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year and the National Apprentice Employer Network Indigenous Apprentice of the Year.

2017 NSW Training Awards Success for Skillset Workforce

2017 NSW Training Awards Success for Skillset Workforce

Adrian Flipo (TAFENSW), Jane McWilliam and Craig Randazzo (Skillset) accept the Industry Collaboration Award

Skillset Workforce celebrated an historic night last night being involved in three wins at the 2017 NSW Training Awards in Sydney. Skillset Workforce and TAFE NSW took out the Industry Collaboration award for the life-changing Skills4Trade and Pledge250 Program, Skillset apprentice Brad Ingham from Orange won the Excellence in Trade Skills Award and Skillset apprentice Donald Dundas from Coonabarabran won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year.

Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo said he couldn’t be prouder of the apprentices, his staff and the programs Skillset delivered. “To see these young people grow and develop the skills we need for the future, and to be providing jobs for them is reward enough, so to receive this recognition is unbelievable.”Skills4Trade was launched in 2016 as part of a coordinated approach to address regional youth unemployment. Since then it has successfully helped increase trainee and apprenticeship participation and completion rates in the region, and helped many students gain important and highly sought after skills.  Craig said it was an endorsement of the program’s commitment to sustainable jobs for young people across the region. “We have to also thank the hundreds of businesses across the Central West who hosted work placements for Skills4Trade participants, pledged on-going jobs and changed literally hundreds of lives as a result.” The Skills4Trade/Pledge25 Program will now progress to the Australian Training Awards finals in Canberra in November.

Ben Ruddy (Skillset Workforce) Brad Ingham and Chris Hutchinson (Hort Enterprises)



Bradley Ingham upstaged thousands of talented competitors from across the state to win the Excellence in Trade Skills award. This success follows news in August that Brad gained a place to represent the Australian Skillaroos team in the prestigious WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi in October this year. Brad attended TAFE NSW Orange.  “I was absolutely stunned when they called out my name,” an extremely proud Brad said. “It’s been an amazing year for me personally – first winning my way to compete in Abu Dhabi and now this state-wide award. It’s exciting and I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to achieve this year.”  Brad’s mentor from Hort Enterprises in Orange where he is employed, Chris Hutchinson, believes this recognition is thoroughly deserved. “Brad is very humble and while he may be surprised by this success, I’m certainly not,” Mr Hutchinson said. “Brad has been a real asset to the company right from day one. He’s passionate about learning and the industry, hard-working, extremely talented and a very deserving winner.”

Donald Dundas

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year, Donald Dundas said he was very surprised by his win. “I went to the awards not expecting much, so I was very surprised when they announced me as the winner,” an extremely proud and humble Donald said. “To consider the journey that I have been on and the fact that there were thousands of people eligible for this award, it’s a massive achievement to be named the best in NSW and something I’m very proud of.”  Donald’s mentor, Warrumbungle Shire Council’s Harold Sutton, believes his recognition is well deserved. “This success might have come as a surprise for Donald, but I’m not surprised at all,” Mr Sutton said. “I think it’s fantastic that the judges have acknowledged how talented, hard-working, dedicated and skilful Donald is. He always demonstrates integrity and diligence in his work – he’s an exceptional asset to council.” Donald studied Plumbing at TAFE NSW Tamworth.  Donald will now progress to the Australian Training Award finals where he hopes to add to his long list of achievements. “I would be speechless if I won the Australian award,” Donald said. “It would mean a lot to everyone who has supported me on this journey if I was to win, but I am also very proud to have made it this far.”

Skills4Trade and Pledge250 Programs Recognised.

Skills4Trade and Pledge250 Programs Recognised.

Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo and TAFE NSW VET Delivery Director Andrew Crowley

Skillset and TAFE NSW have received state-wide recognition for an exciting partnership that continues to deliver outstanding results for young people in the central west.

The organisations have been selected as finalists in the Industry Collaboration category in the prestigious NSW Training Awards for their life-changing Skills4Trade Program.

Skills4Trade was launched in 2016 as part of a coordinated approach to address regional youth unemployment. Since then it has successfully helped increase trainee and apprenticeship participation and completion rates in the region, and helped many students gain important and highly sought after skills. “Skills4Trade is an excellent example of industry collaboration focused on building a sustainable and long-term model of pre-apprenticeship training, work skills and a supportive pathway to jobs for young people,” Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo said. “This state level recognition is testament to the experience and expertise of both organisations and their ability to deliver successful training and employment outcomes for young people.”

TAFE NSW VET Delivery Director Andrew Crowley said Skills4Trade was a multi- faceted program that incorporated training by TAFE and a jobs focus by Skillset. “We focus on offering engaging and practical trade learning activities for the students, while Skillset help students get work trials, help with job creation and career planning through a number of innovative initiatives,” he said. “TAFE is very proud to be involved in such a worthwhile program that continues to deliver outstanding results for young people in western NSW.”

Applications are currently being taken for the next round of Skills4Trade programs commencing at the end of September in Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo and Mudgee. Call 1300 853 525 or visit The NSW Training Awards are being held in Sydney on September 7th.