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!