2016 Winners

Winners of the 2016 Victorian Training Awards became Victorian Ambassadors in their category and went on to represent Victoria at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

Individual Award categories

Apprentice of the Year

Steven Jeffery

Certificate III in Carpentry, Swinburne University of Technology

Steven’s childhood dream was to become a carpenter and suffering from dyslexia was not going to hold him down. “Even though it was hard, I never hid behind it or used it as an excuse to lower my standards or my commitment to work,” Steven says. “In fact, it gave me the opportunity to push past my 'limitations' and constantly improve.”

Steven obtained a Certificate III in Carpentry and Certificate IV in Building and Construction at Swinburne and completed his apprenticeship in carpentry with Jeffery Home, Quality Builders early last year. Since winning the Victorian Apprentice of the Year, Steven has been involved in numerous public speaking events and is furthering his education by undertaking a Diploma of Building and Construction. Steven believes the Diploma will help him grasp a far more in-depth understanding of running a business and the construction industry as a whole.

Trainee of the Year

David Cooper

Certificate III in Tourism, Crown College

By the age of 21, David Cooper had completed a Certificate II in Hospitality in Queensland and was managing a nightclub in Colac. These experiences confirmed his talent and love for the hospitality industry and steered him towards a training path that would provide skills and knowledge to set him up for life.

David successfully applied for a traineeship with Crown Melbourne. He commenced in October 2015, began a Certificate III in Tourism with Crown College and has already been fast-tracked to Stage 2 of his training.

David believes that education can break the destructive cycles of unemployment, poverty and family breakdown. His VET experience has helped him develop improved self-esteem, a strong work ethic, and the confidence to succeed. David has been awarded Crown’s Trainee of the Year as well as receiving three Emerging Excellence Awards and commendations from Area Managers.

See the 2017 VTA Organisation winners video

Vocational Student of the Year

Jennifer Peart

Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing, The Gordon Institute of TAFE

Jennifer Peart won the 2016 Victorian Vocational Student of the Year Award and is now studying a Bachelor of Zoology at Deakin University.

A year after finishing high school found herself in the challenging situation of being a single mum with a newborn daughter and no career direction. She knew that had a love for animals all her life and was determined to make her passion become her career. Therefore, she decided to enrol in a veterinary nursing course at The Gordon Institute of TAFE.  She was able to study part-time while working in her chosen field and graduated with a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.

Winning Victorian Vocational Student of the Year has been life-changing for Jennifer, who puts the win down to the panel recognising how passionate she is for the industry and everything it has to offer. “The opportunities I’ve been given and the people I’ve met in my journey have been amazing,” she said.

Jennifer Peart was named runner-up Australian Vocational Student of the Year at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

School-based Apprentice of the Year

James Schifferle

Certificate III in Information, Digital Media & Technology, Swan Hill College

James developed a keen interest in computers and electronics from an early age and in Year 10, James enrolled in a Certificate III in Information, Digital Media & Technology at Swan Hill College. In year 11, James was offered a school-based apprenticeship with the school and began working one day a week for Swan Hill College while still studying.

Hard work paid off and James completed both years 12 and his Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology and has since gone on to commencing a Bachelor of Computer Science at La Trobe University earlier this year.

James says winning the Victorian School-Based Apprenticeship of the Year in 2016 gave him the confidence he needed to pursue his ambition. He also believes his apprenticeship has taught him valuable lessons he will take with him into the workplace. 

Koorie Student of the Year

Indi Clarke

Certificate IV in Business, Sunraysia Institute of TAFE

Indi completed his Certificate IV in Business as part of his employment with Mallee District Aboriginal Services (MDAS) as a Corporate Services Trainee. After a promotion to the role of Youth and Community Engagement Facilitator, he then took another career leap in February 2017, being appointed Manager of the Koorie Youth Council.

It was not always smooth sailing for Indi who felt stuck in a job in retail he was not really interested in. He wanted to work for the community and but needed some training and some skills to be in the position to help people. Indi believes that the awards help to break down the stigma that VET is secondary to university and are instrumental in closing the gap between the two.

Indi Clarke was named Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the Year at the 2016 Australian Training Awards

VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year

Marc Nichol

Events and Tourism Teacher, Holmesglen Institute

Marc Nichol began working in the events industry in 2001 and was determined to forge a career in this exciting industry so undertook a Diploma of Event Management. Upon completing his Diploma of Event Management Marc went on to have a successful career in the events arena for the next seven years.

Seeking a career change in 2011, Marc took on sessional teaching work in the events program at Holmesglen so he could pass on his experience to the next generation of event professionals. Marc’s desire to improve the skills and knowledge of the next generation of event professionals stemmed from his exposure to working with many where he observed that many of the organisations he was dealing with had a huge gap in the basic event processes and management.

Marc is a strong believer in learning outside the classroom and has sought to give students that experience. While still active in the industry, he is always looking for new insights and experiences to enhance his teaching.

Employer Award categories

Medium Employer of the Year

Bubup Wilam for Early Learning Aboriginal
Child and Family Centre

Bubup Wilam, meaning ‘Children’s Place’ in Woi Wurrung language, is an Aboriginal-managed and controlled organisation that caters for the education and care of Aboriginal children aged 0 to 6 years and their families. It provides a training program for staff with a specific focus on building the education, training and employment capacity of Aboriginal people. Work to establish Bubup Wilam began in 2007 and saw the first intake of children in 2012 and has since exceeded its own expectations. They identified that a training program was needed that believed in the ability of Aboriginal people, and was designed to give them every chance of success.

Bubup Wilam was a finalist for the Australian Medium Employer of the Year at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

Large Employer of the Year

Metro Trains Melbourne

Metro runs and maintains Melbourne’s busy metropolitan rail network. Staff are engaged in activities that include station operations, train driving, project delivery, corporate management and the ongoing maintenance of rolling stock, signals and electrical infrastructure. Metro established Metro Academy as a centralised learning and development department, committed to aligning job-specific training with the vocational education sector. Metro Academy is dedicated to providing innovative development solutions that attract, inspire and grow its people and believe that a competent workforce is critical to maintaining the safety of its employees and that of the travelling public.

Metro Trains Melbourne was named Australian Large Employer of the Year at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

Employer Award for Apprentice Development

Metro Trains Melbourne

Metro Trains Melbourne is the franchise operator contracted to run and maintain Melbourne’s metropolitan train network since 2009. Metro employs approximately 4,800 staff and one of the CEO’s earliest training directives was to implement an apprenticeship program to address looming skills shortages in the electrical trade. In particular, apprenticeships were offered in Certificate IV Engineering for Suburban Train Maintainers and Certificate III Electrical for Signal Maintenance Technicians. The aim is to provide a framework for the provision of specialist knowledge and skill to existing and new train maintenance and signal maintenance staff while enhancing the learning experience by employing a highly experiential design approach with interactivity, immediacy and a strong digital focus.

Training provider Award categories

Small Training Provider of the Year

Master Builders Association of Victoria

Master Builders Association of Victoria has been a Registered Training Organisation since 1994. It offers highly relevant and valued training solutions that improve business productivity, site safety, project quality and employee engagement levels, and offers both public and customised courses, delivering face-to-face, online and/or simulated training. From the onsite evaluation of workforce skills, capabilities and learning gaps, to designing and facilitating compliance, skills, professional development and action (simulated) learning programs, it provides a ‘one-stop, one platform, one provider’ industry training service. Master Builders’ scope of registration offers qualifications from Certificate III to Diploma level.

Master Builders Association of Victoria was a finalist for the Small Training Provider of the Year at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

Large Training Provider of the Year

Box Hill Institute Group

Every year, thousands of students choose Box Hill Institute because of its collaborative and creative approach to education. They have approximately 40,000 students from diverse backgrounds. Every one of them is preparing themselves for a rewarding future by developing new skills and knowledge. It is an exciting time for Box Hill Institute. The launch of the Lilydale Lakeside Campus in 2016 ensured that the Institute continues to be an innovative education provider, offering educational facilities to students in the outer east in an integrated, modern way that is commercially viable and supports its vision of ‘community education for life’.

Box Hill Institute was named Australian Large Training Provider of the Year at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

Community Training Provider of the Year

Kensington Neighbourhood House

Kensington Neighbourhood House hosts a range of adult education and well-being programs, each year welcoming more than one thousand local residents through its doors.  Seventy programs are on offer across two groups; core programs - that provide English language and digital literacy skills, and industry-specific programs - which are designed to provide training and skills to further individuals’ employment prospects.  Kensington Neighbourhood House is a leader in providing adult education, personal development, community building and childcare programs. Each program responds to a specific community need and has been designed for individual learning styles. 


VET in Schools Excellence Award

Bendigo Senior Secondary College

Bendigo Senior Secondary College’s mission is to empower learners for individual, community and global leadership. Delivered through its on-site RTO, external partnerships and the Bendigo Schools Trade Training Centre, the College provides all Year 11 and 12 students with access to a wide range of national recognised vocational education and training courses at Certificate II and III level. The College runs a highly regarded work placement program and supports school-based apprenticeships and traineeships. The College has sustained high level training and education provision with student transfer into sustainable transition outcomes over the past six years, gaining state, national and international recognition. Since winning the Award, Bendigo Senior Secondary College has continued to provide a range of VET options for VCE and VCAL students across a range of industry areas.

VET Client Service/Support Excellence Award

The Bubble Student Advisory Team

Federation Training

The Bubble Student Advisory Team comprises a range of student support services aimed at creating a vibrant and engaging student life. Federation Training has ten campuses spread from East Gippsland to south-east Melbourne and it can be challenging to provide holistic and accessible student support services. The Bubble Hubs have been created at three of the largest campuses (Bairnsdale, Yallourn and Warragul) and offer a time-tabled visit to other campuses. One of the major achievements of The Bubble has been the Student Activities and Engagement Program where 46 Bubble social student activities were on offer, attracting the participation of more than 2,000 students.

Industry Collaboration Award

Metricon Homes

RMIT, Master Builders Association & Metricon

Metricon’s leadership team recognised it was facing intense competition and increasing customer expectations and that there were significant opportunities for them to increase efficiencies. The housing construction industry was facing skills shortages and Metricon saw a pressing need to introduce pathway and upskilling certification programs across the areas of building, customer service, selling and leadership. Metricon engaged with RMIT at its RTO and Master Builders Association. The purpose of the collaboration was to deliver a building certifications program that makes a real difference with a key goal to focus on strengthening site management capabilities.

Metricon Homes was a finalist for the Industry Collaboration Award at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

Lynne Kosky Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement

Bruce Mackenzie

Bruce Mackenzie is the former CEO of Holmesglen Institute of TAFE and has dedicated his working life to the Australian vocational education and training sector.

His drive and leadership have made a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of students, providing them with high-quality training to develop the skills they needed to gain meaningful jobs.

Bruce has also made a significant commitment and contribution to the sector in the development of innovative products and practices in technical and vocational education. Bruce Mackenzie is driven by a passion and determination to broaden opportunities for students and to lift the perception of vocational education in the community.

Over the past 30 years, he has worked to establish Holmesglen as one of the foremost TAFE institutes in Australia. His impact on the vocational sector in Australia is, however, much wider than the success of Holmesglen.

A key attribute is how Bruce Mackenzie has been an innovator and leader, not only in the TAFE sector but formally and informally developing networks to build capacity, mentoring others and providing strong advocacy on behalf of the whole VET sector.

Success at the 2016 Australian Training Awards

Winners of the individual awards and several organisational winners went on to represent Victoria in their categories at the 2016 Australian Training Awards in Darwin.

We congratulate Indi Clarke, Jennifer Peart, WPC Group, Box Hill Institute and Metro Trains Melbourne on their success at the Australian Training Awards.

We also congratulate Denise Stevens on receiving the National Achievement Award at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.