Skillset is driving regional prosperity through SkillForce360

Skillset is driving regional prosperity through SkillForce360

Our current regional jobs growth campaign, SkillForce360 is aimed at guiding and supporting regional businesses for a strong future. With 5 key messages, Skillset has the success of businesses at heart.


1)      Build and develop your team

For businesses to remain in touch with society and maintain a competitive advantage, their team needs to be constantly growing and progressing.
Recent reports have stated the increasing demand for employees to be hired based on their soft skills rather than their level of industry knowledge, qualifications and experience.

Steve Jobs famously insisted, that an individual’s hard skills are not enough. Organisations desperately need the expertise of those who are educated to the human, cultural and social as well as the technical knowledge of their role.

Individuals who hold attributes of being a good coach, critical thinker and problem solver, in addition to having strong communication skills and empathetic views were considered greater assets to a workplace than individuals with qualifications and excessive experience.

For a workplace, it is more beneficial to hire based on your desired soft skills, and then provide necessary training and mentoring to the employee in order to build the ideal team who works cohesively together with the wide range of required technical skills and knowledge.


2)      Support skills development to address skills gaps

The commonly spoken about ‘skills gap’ is a term used to describe not the lack of job applicants, but the difference between the skills that employers want, as shown by their job advertisements, and those that are available from workers looking for a job.

In September 2018, the national average of unemployment was at 5.0%, with unemployment in our Central Western regions slightly higher at 5.4%. Meanwhile our Far West and Orana regions had a decrease of 3.0% in their unemployment rates, currently sitting at 2.9%.

Long standing Skillset host employer, Dave Cooper from DR and DV Cooper Bricklaying in Orange, considers the training of apprentices as an effective means to ending the skill shortage and assists his business in remaining fresh and enthusiastic.

“I’ve been working with Skillset for 20 years because it is evident just how much my business relies on apprentices. Skilled labour is hard to find these days, but apprentices allow you to train them in a way that creates your business’ ideal worker.”

Mr Cooper stated, “80% of my business is made up of apprentices because I honestly couldn’t function without them. I gain so much on both a personal and professional level, watching my boys enter the industry with limited knowledge and low self-esteem, then 4 years later they’re qualified, confident and competent workers who are ready to be business owners themselves. The fresh energy and enthusiasm that these young workers bring to work each day, makes waking up every morning worthwhile.”


3)      Source the best candidates for recruitment and labour hire

For a business to perform well, they need to have the right team with the right skills and personalities to suit the work environment. Sometimes this can be hard for employers to see in potential recruits when hiring.

By choosing to outsource the recruitment of staff to a trusted and proven organisation, your business will save time and money. Your business will be able to concentrate on what you do best – working in your business, while Skillset Workforce does what we do best – recruitment.

Our recruitment process includes five key stages and a dedicated after placement monitoring service and guarantee to ensure we not only find the right employee for your business, but to ensure they continue to perform well in the future years.

Dale Curran, Executive Officer of Skillset’s newest host employer, Western Research Institute (WRI) in Bathurst says,

“This has been the first time our organisation has hired a trainee, but we’ve found that it has created critical capacity in our small team, and a business trainee in particular ensures the day to day cogs of business are always turning smoothly so that we can concentrate on the bigger picture. It’s been a worthwhile investment.”


4)      Increase employment opportunities in regional NSW

Data clearly shows consistent job growth in regions and a rising workforce shortage.
Meeting the job demand for regions with workers is fundamental to the future of our regions. Regions need more permanent workers than what they are currently getting, as well as more people looking to regional Australia for job opportunities that are suitable for them.

In order to attract permanent workers, the employer needs to be able to offer long term professional development opportunities to the individual to encourage them to remain in the regional workforce. With the right support and direction, these long term strategies not only assist businesses in attracting the right permanent workers, but ensures their community is equipped for survival.


5)      Foster the prosperity of regional communities

Did you know that for each dollar you spend at independent businesses, it returns 3 times more money to your local economy than one spent at a large chain. Supporting the survival of your local community means that the community as a whole benefit from the prosperity.

By developing a skilled and developed business, you are offering your local community services that encourage them to spend locally. That not only brings money into your business, but builds a stronger economy around you.

Kathy Woolley, Chief Executive Officer of Skillset host employer, Western Research Institute (WRI) in Bathurst supports this message by stating why they signed up for SkillForce360,

“As an organisation focused on the development of regional communities, we know the importance of providing traineeships in rural and regional communities. Research completed by WRI in the past has highlighted that traineeships and apprenticeships leads to better economic outcome for the whole community and builds long term value to the local economy.”


Play your part in future proofing your business and wider community by joining the SkillForce360 campaign which will build the skills of 360 people in our region. 

Why our apprentices could be the answer to your business’ future needs

Why our apprentices could be the answer to your business’ future needs

SkillForce360 - Skillset Workforce - Jobs Campaign

Since the Skillset Workforce SkillForce360 jobs growth campaign launched a month ago, there have been over 80 new jobs placed within regional NSW…. we’re 22% of the way to our goal already!

What are the reasons behind creating 360 new jobs?
Are we trying to provide our youth with jobs? Contribute to a more skilled workforce for the future? Or are we aiming to assist our local businesses with attracting the skills they require to remain strong in the rapid changes of our current time?

Whilst we’re achieving all of the above, the greatest aim for SkillForce360 is to foster our regional communities to grow and prosper, and educate businesses on the importance of training and upskilling to address the nationwide skills shortage.

Earlier this year, the NSW Government launched the Fee-Free Apprenticeships initiative for over 120 different courses to help address the states skills shortage. Statistics show that NSW will need another 50,000 skilled construction workers in the next 12 months alone. Basically, there’s no better time to think about career choices and take on this opportunity.

With so many options available, why is it that young people are reporting to find it harder than ever before to find jobs following graduation, yet the government has announced a major skills shortage and demand for workers?


So what exactly is a skills shortage?

The ‘skills gap’ is a term used to describe not the lack of job applicants, but the difference between the skills that employers want, as shown by their job advertisements, and those that are available from workers looking for a job.


What actually defines a skilled worker?

A skilled worker is any worker who has special skill, training, knowledge and ability in their work. They may have attended a college, university or technical school, or may have gained their experience through on the job training.

When discussing a skills shortage, we refer to Australia’s lack of trained or qualified workers. Recent studies show that Australia’s rate of Year 12 completion is lower than both Europe and America, with the average school completion rate at 83%. Further, 38.2% of these school completers are not continuing in education or training.  Of the people that continue onto further education, around 1 in 5 will drop out within the first few weeks due to lack of engagement, information and stress overload or inability to see a beneficial end result.

For this reason, apprenticeships offer a many advantages for workplaces. Majority of university or college degrees are heavily focused on academic learning with very minimal practical application, whilst apprenticeships are focused on developing knowledge supported by useful, on-the-job learning which also allows apprentices to earn a wage whilst training.


So how do businesses better equip themselves to deal with the ever changing trends?

During a former discussion with business futurist and innovation expert, Craig Rispin, he emphasised the substantial changes coming in what has been named as the 4th Industrial Evolution.

“The upcoming industrial evolution won’t just change what we do, it’ll change us as humans”.

It’s essential that businesses accept the need for technology in everyday tasks and identify what areas of their business will become automated over the next 5-10 years, and further distinguish what skills they require to hold a competitive advantage for future years.

In order to address the skills gap and assist our businesses with achieving greater productivity, there are 3 key areas that help build a skilled worker. It starts with education, then it’s up to the individual to pursue their strengths, and finally their workplaces must be open to change and understand how to use it to their advantage.


  • Education plays a key role

As individuals recognise their need for skill development and practical experiences, the demand is for our education systems to shift towards a more realistic, hands-on approach to learning. Whilst VET courses already offer this advantage, it’s important that the real-world skills are taught early in high school to better prepare our young people for the realities of the workforce.

Many school leavers are starting to shift towards a preference for VET courses opposed to the traditional university degree, with the 2018 Youth Census outlining that those participants who pursued a university pathway reported lower levels of wellbeing than some other post-school pathways.

Given the way apprenticeships are structured, young people reported a greater sense of meaning and optimism, were driven by a clear goal, and motivated by the annual course completion rewards.

Additional findings showed that a staggering 90% of the highest growth jobs in the next five years only require a VET qualification.

The skills required to fill the national skills shortage aren’t those that can be learnt by reading a textbook, they’re developed through interaction in a workplace. Services such as those offered by Skillset Youth Connect, provide school leavers with mentoring and assistance to plan, set and achieve the education, training and career goals that are right for each individual, to then help them move into appropriate employability.


  • Individuals need to be proactive

It’s a matter of looking at your resume and identifying your skills and knowledge, then recognising what you think you don’t know. From here you can start listing the skills associated with the things that you don’t know and begin enhancing your skillset and filling the gap with education and experiences through short courses, work experience or mentoring.

This process of career enhancement and personal development is about challenging yourself and being courageous enough to learn something new and having the confidence in your abilities. In a rapidly changing workforce, it’s important that you have communication and problem-solving skills to figure the rest out.


  • Managers mindsets need to shift

Providing training opportunities and career development pathways are essential for a business’ talent retention strategy. Investing in your people today, is a long term investment for the long term success of your business.

There’s no doubt that Richard Branson is one of the greatest leaders of our time due to his unique outlook on managing people and desire to create a team that is driven by the same core values.  For managers to recognise the value of their employees and be genuinely interested in them are two of the great qualities for leaders to have.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
– Richard Branson

Studies show that employees who feel supported and encouraged in their profession are more engaged and productive on a day-to-day basis and will stay in the organisation for longer. Some businesses object to training apprentices as they feel that they invest too much time and energy only to have them leave.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
– Richard Branson

In our current workforce, we have four generations, each of which have different learning, leading and work styles. Our generation Z workers are often frowned upon for being “lazy, self-centred and entitled, however they are an asset in today’s digital age. For businesses to thrive in today’s digital market, they need to embrace young workers and all that they have to offer rather than focussing on the way the business has always done things.

Change is coming and it’s happening fast! Businesses need to prepare their employees and ensure that they’re open to finding new solutions.

Apprenticeships are beneficial to businesses because they provide employers with a low-risk sense of ‘trialling’ the employee before they’re hired full-time. Apprenticeships are a way of the future in that they close the skills gap to an extent where the employer can train the apprentice their way and equip them with necessary skills.

If businesses think they will be looking for staff to fill any skills gaps anytime in the next 4 months, they’re encouraged to contact Skillset Workforce who will have a pool of talented young people who are keen to work and who have been supported to work out what the best fit career is for them. Services such as those offered at Skillset, take the risk out of the recruitment process.




Powering People for a Stronger Future: 1 on 1 with William Farrugia

Powering People for a Stronger Future: 1 on 1 with William Farrugia

Skillset Workforce launched SkillForce360on on October 1. SkillForce360 is a campaign aimed to engage 360 people across the region into education or employment by 31st March, 2019. The slogan of the campaign, “powered by people” focusses on building skilled individuals that contribute to the productivity and development of our region’s businesses.

The campaign was built based on studies conducted by the Australian Government that identified a nationwide skills shortage which acknowledged that the supply of workers is not sufficient to meet the demand at current rates of pay. Statistics show that NSW will need another 50,000 skilled construction workers in the next 12 months alone.

SkillForce360 will generate a higher number of employment opportunities in Regional NSW, support skills development, and develop job ready young people who are confident in the roles they are applying for.

Our target of 360 will be achieved through the number of new apprentices, trainees, permanent and labour hire recruits. Additionally, our Youth Connect participants who enrol in education or secure employment will contribute to our goal, as well as any Skills4Trade course graduates.

Skills4Trade is a fully subsidised pre-employment program for 15-40 year olds who have left school and are interested in a pathway to a trade career. The program allows participants to gain a hands on approach to learning about different industries, trade careers, and apprenticeship opportunities, whilst receiving career planning, and discovering what trade is the best fit for them.

We had a chat to Dubbo’s Multi-Trade Skills4Trade course participant, William Farrugia about his course and what he’s gaining from the experience.

Skillset: What are your hobbies?
William: I love to go fishing, camping, playing football and anything that involves the outdoors

Skillset: What’s your dream job?
William: I’ve always wanted to be a boilermaker.

Skillset: Why did you enrol into Skills4Trade?
William: I wanted to improve my opportunities in gaining an apprenticeship.
In school, I studied subjects like construction, metals, engineering and automotive, and I really enjoyed the hands on subjects. When I came across Skills4Trade, I thought it would give me more of an opportunity to enter into a boilermaker apprenticeship and receive career planning.

Skillset: What are you enjoying the most about Skills4Trade?
William: Being in the engineering workshop and being hands-on means every day is a little different. We’re currently working on a die, and I find it challenging but really enjoyable.

Skillset: Would you recommend this course to others your age?
William: Absolutely. I think this course is perfect for anyone who’s willing to get their hands dirty and try out something new before entering into an apprenticeship. It’s really important to work in an industry you love and Skills4Trade gives you the opportunity to try out a few different courses before committing to an industry you actually like.

“It’s important to work in an industry you love… Skills4Trade gives you the opportunity to find what you like”

AIE Open Day opens up world of opportunity for Youth Connect’s Callum Jennings

AIE Open Day opens up world of opportunity for Youth Connect’s Callum Jennings

Callum Jennings - Skillset Workforce - Youth ConnectCallum is a 19-year-old young man who registered with Skillset Youth Connect through the Bathurst Jobs Expo in August 2018. Callum completed his HSC at Denison College last year and is considering going to University in the future, but doesn’t feel quite ready yet and wanted to explore his options.

Skillset Youth Connect assisted Callum with career planning advice and helped him identify the educational and employment pathways that could one day lead to his dream job – game design! Callum has a passion for 3D modelling, game design, and digital content creation, and with our help, has enrolled in Certificate III Information Digital Media & Technology at TAFE NSW to begin his career journey.

To help make this decision, Skillset Youth Connect encouraged Callum to attend an open day at AIE (Academy of Interactive Entertainment) in Sydney to broaden his understanding of career options in the game development, animation, and visual effects industries.

Callum enthusiastically took on this advice to participate in the open day and this is what he had to say to Skillset Youth Connect about his visit to AIE:

“The AIE Open Day was a really nice experience and quite informative. There were around twenty people in attendance so there were two groups that alternated between workshops. The workshops themselves were basic but provided a firm understanding about what the tasks in the course are about and what it’s like to study and work in such a field. They were also quite hands-on, getting us to use the industrial programs used in the making of games and the assets within them. Before we moved into the workshops we were introduced with a powerpoint slide showing us some statistics about the market: where and how fast it’s growing, the number of specialised fields of work there is. But the main thing that surprised me is how many companies both for games and VFX are based in or have hubs in Australia. And Australia has some pretty famous VFX companies that work with a lot of Marvel and high budget films.”

“After the introduction, the first workshop my group attended was 3D Art and Animation. They focused mainly on animation and showed a simple but effective video explaining how to bring life to an artificial object by using techniques that mimic the real movement and follows the laws of physics. We got to use a little bit of Maya which is the program currently used in the industry for animation and creating 3D models among some other uses. The task was the oldest trick in the animation playbook—animating a ball bouncing. What I enjoyed the most about doing this was actually learning some of the features and interface of the program itself.”

“About an hour after the first workshop, the group moved on to what I thought would be the least enjoyable workshop of the day: programming. But I have to say, I learned more about programming in the one-hour long workshop than all the multi-media and software development classes I ever did combine. The teacher was also brutally honest in saying that programmers don’t even know or remember all the special rules or specific commands but rather rely on the program tool-tips and interface to help them decide what the best function is for the job. The teacher also mentioned that the hardest time in coding will be when you’re just starting and eventually you’ll just learn all the syntaxes and jargon. During the workshop I also learned how developers start most of their days; they arrive at the office/studio log into an online application called Trello, which stores all the projects currently in the works, and the developers can pick and choose which tasks they want to complete.”

The application also functions like a pipeline that helps set tasks along and keeps everything organised. And that’s something I love in a workplace, a personalised schedule but also highly organised.

“Once that workshop was completed the staff ordered in Pizza which was super convenient because it meant nobody had to go around Sydney looking for food and all be back at the same time. It was also surprising as I’ve never seen as many teenagers without that typical “I’ll eat everything” appetite. So what the staff did was much appreciated!”

“After lunch, it was the VFX workshop which I found the most interesting. The main thing we learned was what compositing is. I would describe it as essentially removing or masking real objects and inserting computer-generated inserts (CGI). Our task was basically moving files into Adobe After Effects and compiling and layering them together to create a scene with physical footage but also some CGI and VFX elements such as a lens flare and an explosion. We also learned how to remove a green-screen which was neat. We didn’t get to use the industrial program which is called Nuke but the teacher demonstrated how it was different.”

“The final workshop was Game Design. This was probably one of the groups that had the most freedom to do what we wanted as we were given a 2D plat-former pre-set level in Unity and told to change it and make it our own; the purpose of which was to get others to playtest the level so we could see how another person experiences and approaches the level. The workshop was quite fun but my favourite aspect of it was seeing a game in-engine and how the very core of it is constructed and how all the different bits and pieces come together to create a product. Even though everything was already set up I could imagine the sheer fun of creating the assets for a game, compiling them in a format so that they can be accessed and placed inside the game engine, all the while coding the functionality of the pieces to create a game.”

“In the end, what impressed me the most about the whole day was the industry experience the teachers had and how effectively they conveyed that experience and knowledge from working in the industry. This experience looks like it’s carried over to the final products that students study there. I say this because some of the student’s works were absolutely phenomenal and must’ve taken hundreds if not a thousand or more hours creating. Just the amount of detail and functionality in some of the works were really up there in quality. It puts my year 12 project in the dumpster. But that’s a good thing as it shows the quality and degree of skill that students come out with. Taking a course there definitely something I’d like to do in the future when I have a bit more confidence that I could handle the work in terms of quantity and quality.”

If you would like to discover the career pathway to your dream job, get in touch with Skillset Workforce Youth Connect by calling: 1300 853 525, inbox us of Facebook, or email (eligibility criteria applies).

Vinnie’s amazing journey to win Youth Connect Award

Vinnie’s amazing journey to win Youth Connect Award

Viniththa Vasanthakumar (Vinnie) was the recipient of the 2018 Skillset Workforce Youth Connect award for her amazing achievements and determination to develop a career within the childcare industry. Vinnie has had an amazing journey and we can’t wait to see where she goes next!

Vinnie came to Australia with her father 7 years ago, at age 12, from Sri Lanka. As the rest of her family is back in Sri Lanka, Vinnie has had to rely on local community support.

Vinnie was introduced to Skillset Youth Connect by Bathurst High.  The school was concerned about her next steps now that she was transitioning from High school after completing her Higher School Certificate.

Youth Connect provided Vinnie with career planning advice and assistance to explore her post-school options.  Through this process, Vinnie identified her passion and goal was to work with children and she was assisted to enrol and commence in Certificate III in Children’s Services.  Skillset Youth Connect linked Vinnie with the Multicultural Service Officer to ensure she had specialist support and guidance through this process.

As Vinnie was living at Perthville, her next challenge was to get her motorbike license so that she could travel independently to TAFE and her work placements at a local childcare centre. Vinnie is now the proud owner of a scooter and one of her proudest moments has been conquering the dreaded roundabout on her way to TAFE.

Vinnie is now halfway through her Certificate III in Children’s Services and is a star student.  Her teacher has told Youth Connect she wishes all her students were like Vinnie.  “Vinnie is a very passionate student who always gives her best.  She is a keen participant in the classroom eager to give input in the discussion areas.  She is passionate in her study and has developed a great rapport in the classroom with fellow students and teachers.”

Vinnie has recently completed her first TAFE work placement at a local childcare centre.  The children loved Vinnie’s vibrant personality and enthusiasm and she enjoyed being with the children so much that she contacted the Child Care Centre after her placement to let them know she was available in the holidays and asked if she could volunteer her time.

Anyone who meets Vinnie falls in love with her zest for life and natural charisma. Skillset Youth Connect is proud to have worked alongside other community organisations and community members to assist Vinnie, who is always so grateful.

Vinnie has achieved so much this year which is a credit to her determination and beautiful attitude.  Youth Connect is very proud of Vinnie’s achievements and can’t wait to see where she goes next.

Congratulations Vinnie!

Skillset Workforce celebrates skills of apprentices, trainees and businesses

Skillset Workforce was proud to award some of the best apprentices, trainees, individuals and businesses at the Annual Skillset Awards held on Friday, August 31st, 2018.

Over 200 people gathered at the Flannery Centre in Bathurst. It was a great opportunity for our people and businesses to be recognised for their remarkable achievements.

Partnership Award – TAFE NSW Western 

Kate Baxter Regional Manager and Skillset Workforce Senior Manager Jane McWilliam

Skillset Workforce is proud to have jointly forged a strong working relationship with TAFE NSW to expand the range of innovative services and programs offered in Western NSW.

Through our valued partnership, Skillset Workforce has been able to access high-quality training services, obtain access to TAFE facilities and access the range of specialist TAFE NSW support services that help to bolster our range of programs as well as add value to the experience of our clients.

Host of the Year (SME) – Bridges Bathurst (Brown & Associates) 

Blayney Shire Council Mayor Cr Scott Ferguson, Edward Brown and Skillset Workforce Senior Manager Jane McWilliam

Bridges Bathurst (Brown & Associates) are a financial advisory service who have been servicing the Bathurst region for over 31 years. Skillset have been working with Bridges Bathurst for 19 years. They have hosted six trainees with all of them having long tenures and some are still working with Edward today. Edward believes that it is important to invest in young people and takes pride in knowing that he is helping set them on a successful path.

Host of the Year (Large) – Thales

Skillset Director Maree Statham, David Forbes and Skillset Workforce Senior Manager Jane McWilliam

Thales Group are well renowned for their innovative focus on community and staff development.

Over our 12 year partnership, Thales have hosted 39 apprentices and trainees, from fitter machinists to electricians to business trainees.

Their unique training program ensures apprentices and trainees are well supported and successful in the workplace as well as the adaptation of training to suit the industry requirements.

Host Excellence Award – D R & D V Cooper 

Skillset Senior Manager – Business Services Kim Ellis, David Cooper and Skillset Workforce Senior Manager Jane McWilliam

The Coopers run a successful bricklaying business in Orange and Dave has been working as a Bricklayer for over 40 years. They are wonderful advocates for bringing young people into their business to complete their apprenticeship and at the same time teaching them valuable life skills. Over the 20 years that we have worked with Dave, he has employed 11 apprentices which is amazing for a small business.

Jim Todman Safety Award – Spatial Services

Penny Todman, Rick McDonald, Dylan Todman, & Jane McWilliam

This Award recognises hosts who demonstrate high standards of safety. This award was named after the late Jim Todman, who was our Safety Officer in 2008 and 2009. Jim’s commitment to safety and ensuring the health and wellbeing of our apprentices and trainees lives on through this award.

Spatial Services have been running “Wellness@Spatial” for two years.  The wellness program focuses on the elements of fitness, nutrition, weight control, stress management, sleep and energy optimisation, and building a positive mindset to help their staff feel 100% effective every day, and are engaged and enthused with work life.

Skills4Trade Student of the Year (Multi-Industry Courses) – Harrison Pirie 

Karen Bond, Harrison Pirie and Jane McWilliam

Harry enrolled in the Skills4Trade program after his neighbour encouraged him to do some study.  Harry demonstrated his commitment to engineering by attending the PJL Information evening and observing all the networking and self-promotion strategies that were taught in class.

After interviews and a two-day work trial with PJL Harry was successful in winning a boiler making apprenticeship.  Harry is getting excellent reports for his performance as an apprentice at PJL.

Skills4Trade Student of the Year (GTO Courses) – Kayltin Middleton 

Kate Baxter, Kaytlin Middleton and Jane McWilliam

Kaytlin completed the first Skills4Trade Community Services course in July 2018. Attending all Skills4Trade TAFE Days – Kaytlin passed all TAFE competencies. She was also a strong candidate on her work tours after being the first student to approach and interact with clients.

Kaytlin feels the community services industry is what suits her, so has continued her studies and enrolled into Certificate III Individual Support – Disability.

Youth Connect Award – Viniththa Vasanthakumar 

Amanda Gregor, Viniththa Vasanthakumar and Jane McWilliam

Youth Connect provided Vinnie with career planning advice and assistance to explore her post-school options.  Through this process, Vinnie identified her passion and goal was to work with children and enrol in Certificate III in Children’s Services.

Vinnie is now halfway through her studies and is a star student. Vinnie has achieved so much this year which is a credit to her determination and beautiful attitude.  We can’t wait to see where she goes next

Apprentice and Trainee Awards

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Apprentice or Trainee of the Year Award

Tenille Gaffney, Hollie Kemp, Lucas Payne, Donald Dundas and Jane McWilliam

WINNER – Lucas Payne 

Lucas is in his final year of his apprenticeship at Moolarben Coal Operations and is completing a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician. In 2015, Lucas was awarded Skillset’s School-Based Apprentice of the Year. Lucas has an outstanding work ethic, and is always looking out for others.


Hollie Kemp – Hollie is completing her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education at Towri Macs Centre. She has shown great dedication to the role and has set a high importance on teaching children about indigenous culture and history.

Tenille Gaffney – Tenille has been working with Moolarben Coal Operations as a Trainee Surface Extraction Operator. She has embraced a huge change after 25 years in retail and embarking on a career change in mining. She has been excelling in her traineeship.

Emma McGuiness – Emma is completing a Certificate III Business Administration (Medical) at Doctor S Kamalaharan and Associates. Emma is a diligent worker with a great work ethic.

Apprentice or Trainee in Non-Traditional Trade Award 

Erin Hunter, Samantha Kennedy, Meghan Buchholz, Rebecca Balmer, Stephen Harper and Jane McWilliam

WINNER – Erin Hunter 

Erin has excelled in her Electrotechnology Electrician at MRG Electrical. She is training as an industrial electrician and her skills are beyond those of someone her age and experience. Erin placed third (and missing out on the Gold Medal by just 2 POINTS) at the 2018 National World Skills Competition.


Samantha Kennedy – Samantha is completing Certificate III in Commercial Cookery at Highland Heritage Estate. Samantha recently completed her major assessment, CHEF NIGHT at TAFE where she was head chef, designed her own menu much to the delight of people attending.

Meghan Buchholz – Meghan Is an Open Cut Surface Trainee at Moolarben Coal Operations. She has an outstanding work ethic and can adapt to any situation. Most recently, Meghan has acted in a higher duties relief role.

Rebecca Balmer – Rebecca is completing her Horticulture Apprentice at Dubbo Regional Council. Her TAFE Work is outstanding and is dedicated and resilient in the workplace. She has also completed her apprenticeship this week and has been offered a full-time job at Dubbo Regional Council.

Joyce Hawkes Trainee of the Year

Grant Arnold, Jacqui Breen, Hanna Peachman, Courtney Hogan, Andrew Gee and Jane McWilliam

This Award is named after the late Joyce Hawkes who was an original board member of Central West Group Apprentices and a driving force in its creation.

WINNER – Courtney Hogan 

Courtney completed her traineeship in Early Childhood Education at host employer Dubbo Regional Council Child Care Centre. She has developed a wealth of industry and at the conclusion of Courtney’s traineeship, she has been offered various job opportunities – a reflection of her passion and skill for working with children.


Hanna Peachman – Hanna completed her traineeship with Lithgow City Council. After previously completing a Cert III she quickly moved to completing Cert 4 In Business Services. Hanna has a strong customer service focus and is always performs at a high and professional standard.

Breanna Reimer – Breanna is completing a Certificate III in Community Services Work at Housing Plus Orange. Hanna handles any situation that is given to her professionally and we have received phenomenal feedback from her host employer.

Taylen Cornish – Taylen has taken a mature approach to his Drilling Operations traineeship at Moolarben Coal Operations. He has excellent TAFE results and has an outstanding work ethic.

Gordon Hawkes Apprentice of the Year 

The Gordon Hawkes Award is named after the late Gordon Hawkes, husband of Joyce who was also an original board member of Central West Group Apprentices and a driving force in its creation.

WINNER – Mathew Harvey 

Erin Hunter, Ben Hockey, Joseph Duffy, Brock Piper, Andrew Gee and Jane McWilliam

Mathew started his Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade apprenticeship at PJL Group as a mature-aged apprentice after coming from a role as a rigger at a construction company. Mathew has consistently excelled in his studies and he was awarded the 2018 Western NSW Training Awards Apprentice of the Year and is a leading hand at PJL.


Erin Hunter – We have already heard about Erin’s amazing achievements as an industrial electrician in the Non-Traditional Trade Award Category. Congratulations Erin for being nominated for your second award!

Joseph Duffy – Joseph has proved to be an outstanding apprentice, He completed a Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade at host employer PJL Group. In 2017, Joe was awarded the Country Woman’s Associations’ Central West Annual Apprentice Award. Joe has a broad knowledge base of the engineering and mining industry and his drive to continue to progress his career is inspiring.

Brock Piper – Brock Piper is completing his apprenticeship in Electrotechnology – Electronics and Communications at Western NSW Health. He has excelled in his studies and he has achieved exceptional exam results.

Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists at the Skillset Workforce Awards!