Congratulations to South Australia’s national finalists, state representatives and shortlisted candidates for the 2020 Australian Training Awards.

National Finalists

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Clarice Goddard

Certificate III in Business Studies

Trained by: Tauondi Aboriginal College

Employed by: Department for Child Protection

A proud Warlpiri and Pertame descendant from Yuendumu and Alice Springs, Clarice Goddard worked in a range of organisations across the Northern Territory and South Australia before joining the Department for Child Protection through the South Australian Public Sector’s Aboriginal Traineeship Program. Her Vocational Education and Training (VET) journey saw her complete a traineeship in administration through the program, drawing upon her prior work history in retail, office administration, human resources, communications and medico legal administration.

With experience of living in cities, small towns and communities, Clarice has been exposed across her life to many of the issues faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially children and young people. She credits her background with helping her to find purpose in her career and to map her path to future employment.

“When I moved to Adelaide, I decided I wanted to look for a job that could offer me opportunities for career progression and to complete a qualification in a business-related field,” says Clarice. “My passion has always been to work in an organisation that is improving the lives and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people, and VET has allowed me to achieve that.”

Clarice made it her mission to learn as much as possible from senior administration team members in her work area. In December 2019, with the support of her supervisor and co-workers, she completed a Certificate III in Business Administration with Adelaide’s Tauondi Aboriginal College and - just eight months after commencement - her traineeship was signed off. Clarice subsequently secured a permanent position as a Business Support Officer with the Department’s Far North Far West Regional Office.

“I have gained confidence, experience and skills throughout my VET experience,” says Clarice. “Through undertaking my traineeship, I have developed the necessary knowledge to progress my career further into higher administrative roles, and my five-year plan is to apply for promotions and, possibly, to become a business manager within that time.”

A true ambassador for VET and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Clarice has seized all available opportunities to take on leadership roles - both inside and outside of her workplace. She represented her Department at the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Conference, the NAIDOC SA Ball, the Santos Power Cup and the Reconciliation SA Apology Breakfast, and in early 2020 she assisted with organising state-wide training for all of the Department’s Aboriginal staff members.

“My community and family are my motivators and the inspiration for me pursing my VET training and my career,” says Clarice. “Growing up on community has influenced the person I am today. It helped to ground me and teach me about my culture, and it helped to shape my passion to get involved in organisations that are improving the lives and outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Apprentice of the Year

Joshua Nicolo

Certificate III in Data and Voice Communications

Trained by: PEER

Host employer: MIMP Connecting Solutions

For Joshua Nicolo, Vocational Education and Training (VET) is in his blood. The son of a qualified electrician, transmission linesman and communications technician, Joshua grew up observing his father’s skills, later mirroring them when he dismantled his family’s home computer to understand its inner workings.

Years later, after studying information technology, tertiary level maths, and sciences at high school, Joshua sought out the opportunity to put his knowledge into practice, securing a role as a trade’s assistant.

With hopes of building a career in information technology and electronics - and fuelled by a desire to earn while he learned - Joshua enrolled in a Certificate III in Data Communications with PEER, which supported him to secure a placement with his current host employer, MIMP Connecting Solutions. 

He applauds the training he has received through PEER and plans to undertake further studies upon completion of his apprenticeship. Joshua is currently exploring options to train as an electrical apprentice while joining the Air Force Reserve and is considering university studies to further his knowledge in the field of information technology.

“Choosing a data communications apprenticeship has been one of the best decisions I’ve made,” says Joshua. “I didn’t want to follow a career that made me sit at a desk all day, rather I wanted to develop a career that gave me the ability to travel around Adelaide and the country for work.”

“I’ve gained more than I initially expected through my apprenticeship. My knowledge in electronics and information technology has expanded more than I ever thought it would.”

Joshua is a passionate advocate of VET and the opportunities it opens up for participants. In addition to the skills of the trade he has learned throughout his apprenticeship, he places great value on the ‘soft skills’ his experience has instilled in him – including in the areas of communication, employer, supplier and customer liaison, project management and teamwork.

“I’ve practiced and managed to deal with problem solving in the most demanding situations and taken charge of large jobs with tight deadlines to satisfy client expectations,” says Joshua. “It’s the combination of these experiences and the hands-on skills I’ve acquired through VET that’s made me a much better person - not only in the trade, but also as an individual.”

Across the period of his apprenticeship, Joshua has enjoyed placements with several host employers, exposing him to new ideas, approaches and procedures.

“I’ve learned that teamwork is paramount in more ways than some people believe,” he says. “It’s not only a way to build relationships, and execute and complete projects and tasks, but it also helps you to become a leader inside and outside of work.”

“Since I commenced my apprenticeship, my friends and family are always asking how I’m going and what projects I’ve been working on. They’re fascinated with some of the tasks and projects I’m involved with, and that’s given some of them an interest in learning a trade themselves. I love sharing my knowledge, and hopefully inspiring others to consider VET pathways to build their future careers.”

Apprentice of the Year 

(Runner up - progressing to the Australian Training Awards)
 

Jack Bonetti

Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician
Trained by: PEER
Host employer: Livewire Digital

When Jack Bonetti entered the final stages of his electrotechnology apprenticeship, the last thing he expected to encounter was a global pandemic. But recognising the opportunity to test his resilience, he leant on the skills he had acquired throughout his Vocational Education and Training (VET), completing his studies and learning and growing from the experience.

“COVID-19 was one of the biggest challenges I faced throughout my apprenticeship,” says Jack. “I was sitting my capstone at the early stages when restrictions were commencing, and it was certainly stressful not knowing from one day to the next if we would be able to return.” 

“Restrictions were constantly changing, but our trainer made sure we stayed focused and spaced out our day so we could sit each test before we left. Together, we stayed back each night to finish scheduled topics, not knowing what we might encounter the following day. 

“I certainly never imagined I would be completing my training during a global pandemic. However, as a result of the measures my Group Training Organisation, PEER, put in place, I was able to continue with my capstone and remain on track with my apprenticeship.”

Jack, a proficient spearfisherman and darts player, knew from an early age that he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to remain active and engaged with hands on projects. In Year 11, after seeking the advice of family members and friends, he enrolled in a one-year industrial pathways program that exposed him to a wide variety of trades.

The following year, he completed his South Australian Certificate of Education, undertook a Certificate II in Electrotechnology, and began applying for apprenticeships. 

“I always knew I wanted to pursue a career that would combine my passion for being active with working in a practical setting,” says Jack.

“Completing the industrial pathways program and the Certificate II in Electrotechnology prior to commencing my apprenticeship confirmed my interest in the electrical industry and my desire to establish a long term career in the field.”

Jack credits the support he received from PEER - coupled with the experience he gained through placements with several host employers - with helping him to develop his knowledge, experience and communication skills in a variety of workplace settings. 

Across the period of his apprenticeship, he worked at regional and remote sites around the country - placements that gave him the skills and experience he needed to work as part of a team. 

“Working at so many sites meant I had the chance to meet and work with a variety of people, enabling me to grow my communication skills and build resilience through dealing with a range of personalities,” says Jack. “Being able to put my training into practice gave me the skills and confidence I needed to perform the duties required and also allowed me to support others to improve their skills.”

Now employed with Livewire Digital, a provider of electrical services in both domestic and commercial environments, Jack enjoys sharing his experiences with other VET participants. 

“The desire to learn is an important trait and my advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship is to follow your passion, regardless of any challenges you may face, and never, ever give up,” he says.

School-based Apprentice of the Year

Stephanie Verrall

Undertaking Certificate III in Commercial Cookery

Attends: Paralowie R-12 School

Trained by: CEG - Training Partnerships

Employed by: My Kingdom for a Horse

Immersing herself in the world of food, kitchens and cookery as part of a school-based apprenticeship saw budding lawyer Stephanie Verrall switch streams to follow her passion through Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Currently completing Year 12 at South Australia’s Paralowie R-12 School, Stephanie had a Certificate II in Kitchen Operations under her belt, and had established her own successful cake-making business, when she became the first school-based apprentice to be employed by multi-award winning café, My Kingdom for a Horse.

“Until I discovered cooking, my life goal had always been to become a lawyer,” says Stephanie. “However, after commencing my VET training, I realised my love for cookery and changed my career direction.”

“Through engaging in my Certificate II course, I’ve gained a school-based apprenticeship, extensive knowledge about the hospitality industry, a lifelong mentor, and a silver medal at the Secondary Schools Culinary Competition. I won the 2019 Northern Adelaide State Secondary Schools Alliance’s (NASSSA) Vocational Student of the Year and Hospitality and Food Processing Industry Areas awards, and I’ve had the opportunity to become a VET ambassador.”

An avid gardener who loves creating home cooked food from her own harvest, Stephanie has particularly enjoyed the opportunities her apprenticeship has provided to gain first-hand experience in a team setting, complementing her formal VET studies with skills in communication, creative and critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving.

Competing against a field of 1000 students drawn from across 13 schools to take out NASSSA’s Vocational Student of the Year award gave Stephanie the encouragement she needed to take on a peer mentoring role with other young people.

In early 2020, the 2019 NASSSA Vocational Student of the Year, Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Team Leader, NASSSA VET Leaders Luncheon Team Leader and Secondary Schools Culinary Competition Team Leader was invited to present to hospitality students of VET provider, Salford College, sharing her culinary passions and highlighting the impact her studies have had on her life and future.

“I’ve always been committed taking on leadership roles because I enjoy being able to encourage others to develop their traits,” says Stephanie. “At Salford College, I spoke about my love for food and creating dishes, and how VET has positively changed my life and career. I had the opportunity to share my experiences with my peers and to help them to understand that being a part of the VET system is utterly rewarding.”

“VET has opened pathways for my future by giving me the skill set required to enter the hospitality industry to pursue my career as a chef. Without it, I wouldn’t have gained the skills and knowledge I needed, and I wouldn’t have had the chance to undertake the commercial kitchen experiences that gave me the boost to change my career path.”

Trainee of the Year

Phoebe Storey

Certificate IV of Veterinary Nursing

Trained by: TAFE SA

Employed by: Nutrien Ag Solutions

Hailing from country South Australia, and against the backdrop of a childhood spent riding and competing on horses, it was natural that Phoebe Storey would choose a career working with animals.

Focusing her high school studies around agriculture and sciences, while competing with cows in local area and Adelaide shows, Phoebe progressed to university to complete a Bachelor of Animal Science. A member of the equine group at her agricultural college, and a participant in its foal watch program, she was considering furthering her studies with honours when the opportunity presented itself to roll her sleeves up in a real-life setting by combining work with learning through Vocational Education and Training (VET).

“I needed to get hands on and enter the veterinary side of things, and I was fortunate enough to gain employment as a trainee at Redgum Vet & Pet Boarding in Port Augusta,” says Phoebe. “I embraced the professionalism and teamwork there and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I enrolled in a Certificate IV of Veterinary Nursing through TAFE SA, which has been a wonderful addition to my portfolio.”

“While I had a background knowledge in animal health, VET studies gave me valuable skills both in working with animals and communicating with people, which has made me more efficient and engaging in my job.”

Her commitment to her community and her dedication to her field of work led Phoebe to win Port Augusta's Trainee of the Year in 2018, and in 2019 she took out the District Council of Mount Remarkable's Junior Citizen of the Year.

The challenges of living in the country, while studying and working full time, saw Phoebe juggling her workplace commitments with regular three-hour trips to Adelaide to participate in practical assessments through her VET provider.

“Being able to attend assessments back-to-back at TAFE SA certainly helped, especially when I was able to combine and complete the second and third years of my training in one year,” says Phoebe. “While I was completing my course, I was inspired to do further training and short courses in areas that I developed an interest in while studying. I undertook canine management and behaviour training, and also became the puppy preschool instructor for the Redgum clinic.”

Now employed by Nutrien Ag Solutions, Phoebe plans to further increase her skill set to progress her career in animal health and nutrition.

“I have a real passion for learning and believe every opportunity should be taken to increase your skill base and knowledge with recognised courses,” she says. “It shouldn’t matter where you are from or what your background is, everyone should have an opportunity to study, and this is something that goes right to the heart of VET.”

“I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I completed my VET course. The pace and professionalism with which the certificate is delivered via TAFE SA goes a long way toward supporting and helping participants to succeed and I would definitely encourage others to consider undertaking a traineeship.”

Vocational Student of the Year

Ebony Springall

Certificate III and IV in Education Support

Trained by: Fast Track Training Australia

Employed by: Woodend Primary School

Nothing inspires a child more than an educator who is passionate about learning themselves, something Ebony Springall is testament to.

After months spent assisting her son’s reception class with its morning reading activities, Ebony swiftly realised the ritual had become her favourite part of the day, and her future career path was set.

“Reading with some of the children who struggled with learning difficulties made me want to be able to do something to help, to be able to empower them to succeed and to give them much needed confidence,” says Ebony. “I wanted to do something with my career that could benefit these children and make a difference in their lives, and I also wanted to be able to support the teachers to work with students who need extra support due to disabilities, learning or behavioural difficulties.”

With encouragement from friends and family, Ebony began to research the Vocational Education and Training (VET) required to become a school services officer, enrolling with Fast Track Training Australia to study a combined Certificate III and IV in Education Support.

After completing her course and applying to local schools in her area, Ebony - the first member of her family to achieve a nationally recognised qualification - received multiple job offers, commencing her role with Woodend Primary School within a few weeks.

“Online learning suited my life and allowed me to work and still spend time with my kids, while studying at a pace that worked for me,” she says. “I chose to study with Fast Track Training Australia because the combined course allowed me to be time effective with my study, and having a Certificate IV gave me a point of difference over the majority of other school services officers.”

VET studies equipped Ebony to hit the ground running in her new role and to immediately demonstrate the knowledge and skills she had acquired through her training. Within weeks, she was offered a full-time year-long contract.

“I enjoyed the challenge of VET and put everything into it. It set me up so well for the day to day experiences I have in my job - especially in the areas of behaviour, disability, literacy and numeracy strategies,” says Ebony. “I’ve already made huge leaps with students who’ve shown remarkable improvement in behaviour or language.”

Having found her passion through her education and training, Ebony now takes every available opportunity to spread the story of her success and encourage others to take their futures into their own hands, find their passion and make it happen.

“It would never have happened for me if I hadn’t taken the leap to upskill myself through training, and I will forever be grateful that I did,” she says.

“I look forward to where this career could take me and aspire to be able to help the new generation of students to be the best they can be with all the support they need to achieve.”

VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year

Steven Skinner

Employed by: TAFE SA

Passionately committed to the belief that no student should be left behind, Steven Skinner is an inspiring educator recognised for his work in developing flexible learning and assessment strategies to support students of all abilities.

A lecturer at TAFE SA, Steven draws upon his 40-year career in the heavy engineering and defence industry to develop methodologies that link industry best practice with tailored, hands-on training.

“During my time in industry, I worked in a number of senior management roles, and oversaw the training and mentoring of colleagues and staff in some of the largest companies in Australia,” says Steven. “For a decade of that time, I also worked as an instructor in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.”

“I joined TAFE SA as a full-time lecturer during an Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) audit, and to achieve our accreditation it was evident we needed to identify and implement immediate improvements. My industry experience gave me the necessary insight to support my work unit with the development of an enhanced suite of training and assessment tools, and I expanded those tools further to create a set of lecturer and student learning guides.”

In the years following the ASQA audit, Steven taught students from school age through to adulthood, collaborating with his peers at TAFE SA and leveraging and sharing the experience he had gained across his career through working with lecturers, training managers, course developers and designers in Australia and internationally.

Two years ago, Steven was invited to develop and deliver an engineering program for school students participating in a new multi-trades program at TAFE SA’s Noarlunga campus, a pivotal moment in his career as a VET educator.

Drawn from a diverse range of learning backgrounds, many participants in the program are on the autism spectrum or face language, literacy and numeracy challenges. Using the lecturer and student guides he created during TAFE SA’s audit process, Steven has adapted the learning environment to suit different cohorts and the needs of individual participants.

“The last two years have been the most challenging of my career, due mainly to the number of flexible learning options students I have taught and the complex learning and social challenges they face,” says Steven. “However, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and I take great pride in knowing that no student is left behind and that I’ve played a part in turning around the lives of many young people.”

“I’ve been a disciple and a product of the VET system since I began my journey as an apprentice 40 years ago. VET offers an excellent system of learning and development across a very broad range of competencies, assisting participants of all abilities to prepare, establish and develop the careers they want.”

“My dream is that every student who comes through our door, leaves us with a great skill set, job ready, and prepared to embrace the opportunities that await them.”

State Representatives

Training Provider of the Year

PEER

Across its 35 year history, PEER has established itself as an exciting and innovative provider of nationally accredited training packages to meet South Australia’s skill development needs.

Based in Adelaide, the non-profit industry-based operation is a Registered Training Organisation and Group Training Organisation (GTO) that has trained 50,000 people, including more than 3300 apprentices, since it first opened its doors in 1985. The organisation boasts a 94 per cent completion rate - one of the highest in the country.

Passionate about helping students to succeed, PEER is highly regarded for delivering trade training and assessment excellence in the electrical, plumbing, data communications, and refrigeration and air conditioning trades. It also provides pre-vocational training, VET in Schools programs, upskilling short courses and skills recognition.

As a GTO, PEER is the largest employer of apprentices in South Australia’s building and construction industry, with nearly 400 apprentices and trainees currently engaged.

PEER’s training - customised and personalised to accommodate the learning styles of each student - is conducted in the organisation’s purpose-built training facility, the Centre of Excellence, which it designed and built in collaboration with industry partners.

Recognised for its work in proactively managing the challenges of the industries it supports and providing a creative learning experience that is engaging and continually evolving, PEER has transformed itself to ensure the market’s evolving needs can be effectively and sustainably met. This approach has positioned the organisation as a leading, modern, professional, responsive and proficient provider, setting new benchmarks in training outcomes and strong, constructive, mutually beneficial partnerships with industry.

Guided by its vision is to be Australia’s leading learning provider, PEER’s care and concern for students sets it apart from its competitors. The organisation trains, coaches, mentors and supports its students to be their best - as trade professionals and as individuals - positioning them to contribute to and prosper in the South Australian community.

The organisation’s affiliation with industry, demonstrated through its multi-layered relationships with trade associations, the private sector and unions, has resulted in a best practice approach to training, driven by industry demand.

The centrepiece of PEER’s commitment to excellence and high-level performance in national training arrangements has been its implementation of a flexible learning environment for electrotechnology, data and refrigeration apprentices. With training tailored to suit individual learning circumstances, PEER students benefit from flexible, customised, self-paced learning environments, enabling them to immerse themselves in both theoretical and practical elements under the guidance of qualified trainers.

PEER plans and coordinates Vocational Education and Training (VET) through extensive consultation and collaboration with industry and state and federal governments, and in response to market demand and feedback. Its expertise and track record of innovation ensures the organisation has the necessary capacity to successfully implement changes relating to reform initiatives.

Led by a team of adept, agile thinkers with a commitment to continuous development, PEER is one of the state’s most successful and celebrated VET ambassadors.

Small Employer of the Year

ORBE

Built on a foundation of strong and consistent training for all team members, and with exceptional customer service part of its DNA, ORBE has established a reputation across the past 25 years as one of the most successful hairdressing salons in South Australia.

Since opening its doors in 1994, the market-leading business has been recognised for its commitment to employing and educating young people and positioning them for future growth in the hair and beauty industry.

Founded by Creative Directors and industry veterans Ida Tirimacco and Joe Cimmino, ORBE delivers a comprehensive inhouse training program to all staff, working in collaboration with Vocational Education and Training (VET) provider, TAFE SA, to ensure apprentices are supported to successfully complete and leverage their Certificate III in Hairdressing.

Ida - a South Australian Hair and Beauty Association board member -  and Joe believe their team is the backbone of their business, and with three of their 18 staff members recently celebrating decade-long careers with ORBE, it is evident the work environment they have created is a positive one that has proven successful for all.

In recent years, ORBE has won the Australian Small Business Championship Awards for Hairdressing (2019), State Salon of the Year SA/TAS/VIC at the 2019 Australian Hair Industry Awards (AHIA), and the 2019 Eastside Business Awards Best Hair & Beauty Salon. In 2020, the salon was inducted into the Eastside Business Awards Hall of Fame, and ORBE recently learned it was a finalist in three of the 2020 AHIA categories – In Salon Training, Best Customer Care and State Salon of the Year SA.

ORBE’s work regularly appears in local and national publications and team members have worked at events including the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia and BAZAAR in Bloom. Staff have also worked backstage on television programs such as The Voice and The Voice Kids.

With VET at the heart of the business, both Ida and Joe are hands on in the training of ORBE’s apprentices and senior team. In addition to supporting their staff to hone skills developed through the Certificate III, they also remain committed to providing on-site training to all team members in elective components of the national curriculum, and offer apprentices and stylists a wealth of opportunities to grow their skills.

Working closely with brand partner Goldwell, ORBE delivers regular one-on-one in-salon training sessions to support their employees to learn new techniques, and stylists working with the business have travelled interstate and overseas to further their education and compete in events such as WorldSkills Australia.

The salon currently employs six apprentices across its two sites, complementing their VET studies with weekly training provided by ORBE’s four master stylists and guest sessions from Goldwell trainers.

In addition to industry and product training, apprentices are coached in a range of business skills to support their career development and build confidence in their abilities. Among the wide array of topics covered are client communications, occupational health and safety, client retention, social/digital media, and customer care.

Ida and Joe believe VET is the key to career longevity, with ongoing education and training the most critical ingredients for continued growth and success.

Medium Employer of the Year

Outside Ideas

Since it was established in 2003, civil construction, commercial landscaping and structural concreting business, Outside Ideas, has grown to a team of more than 165 full time staff members. Together, the team delivers world-class projects, industry-best outcomes and sustainable solutions across Australia.

With a history spanning the civic, commercial, health, education, transport and leisure industries, the company’s proven track record reflects its drive for quality and innovation while maintaining a commitment to value, buildability and overall functionality.

What sets Outside Ideas apart from its competitors is the business’ commitment to quality Vocational Education and Training (VET) that meet the needs of individual learners, and the understanding that every person learns differently - with the highest quality outcomes achieved by matching the learning environment to the employee.

To maintain its market reputation as an employer of choice, Outside Ideas strives to ensure its apprentices receive the best possible training to prepare them for the industry. This commitment was a key driver in the organisation’s decision to establish Construction Training Academy (CTA), a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) specialising in landscaping and civil construction training.

CTA gained registration in January 2020, and the RTO has recently commenced training its first intake of apprentices. Moving forward, CTA will play a significant role in the development of Outside Ideas’ apprentices and extend its training programs to the wider landscaping and civil construction industries.

Outside Ideas’ vision for CTA is to ensure the entire industry can benefit from industry-specific, job ready training. In the past 12 months, a range of training and leadership innovations have been introduced to support continuous improvement of training for staff at all levels - including an apprentice passport program that enables apprentices and supervisors to better track the training process, an ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award, a structured performance review process for all staff, and a leadership program designed to empower senior staff to become better leaders and mentors.

Outside Ideas understands the challenges young people face when starting their careers. The company’s training program offers flexibility and a diverse range of opportunities to support new employees to experience all facets of the business and to select a pathway that best matches their aptitude and passion.

Apprentices at the start of their VET journey are paired with a mentor who works with them throughout the period of their training, providing ongoing support and a constant point of contact for career development - and instilling a passion for lifelong learning that has seen many of the company’s established staff engaged in ongoing training.

Outside Ideas takes an innovative, lifecycle approach to training, believing its leadership training creates better mentors for the company’s apprentices, encouraging a heathy company culture and a higher rate of staff retention.

To date, 24 employees have completed CTA’s newly introduced leadership program - the first training package delivered by the new RTO - and Outside Ideas’ 25 apprentices are benefitting from working with their mentors and undertaking formal on-job-training, including structured technical learning and life skills training delivered through the apprentice passport program.

Large Employer of the Year

SA Power Networks

When COVID-19 hit, SA Power Networks - one of South Australia’s largest organisations - successfully pivoted its training model to ensure a seamless learning experience for all.

In pursuit of its vision to empower South Australia by delivering cheaper, more flexible and greener energy solutions to customers, the electricity distributor’s 2000-strong team has embraced Industry 4.0 - the emerging digital age that utilises automation, digital control technologies and artificial intelligences. To achieve this, SA Power Networks recognised the business required a skilled, capable and engaged workforce, and so it began retraining and upskilling its employees.

The organisation integrates smart thinking into the development of its training environment, tying its training framework to an effective performance and development review process to ensure the targeted implementation of mandatory, developmental, technical and leadership training.

SA Power Networks Training Services - the business’ Enterprise Registered Training Organisation (RTO) - delivers 84,000 hours of accredited training to employees annually. The RTO is currently training 105 apprentices across the Certificate III in Electrotechnology (Electrician) and Certificate III
in ESI Power Systems Distribution, and since 2000 it has trained a total of 575 electrical apprentices, with a 93 per cent retention rate.

Additionally, to build its leadership pipeline, the business is currently supporting 45 team members to complete either a Certificate IV or Diploma in Leadership and Management, and skilled paraprofessionals progressing toward more senior roles are given the opportunity to undertake an Advanced Diploma in Applied Electrical Engineering.

To facilitate learning for its regional workers, SA Power Networks has invested in developing online and blended learning solutions, combining RTO partnerships with inhouse capability to write and produce eLearning modules.

The trade technical courses delivered by the Enterprise RTO (which partners with TAFE SA to deliver some apprenticeship units to its students) have been rewritten to better utilise online technologies, and the Advanced Diploma has moved from classroom to synchronistic webinars combined with on-the-job learning and online assignments and assessments.

These enhancements to the organisation’s learning culture positioned SA Power Networks to quickly able to adapt to social distancing rules resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent months, synchronous face-to-face inductions have been replaced with asynchronous online learning, the Advanced Diploma has moved from a classroom model to delivery via a blend of webinars, on-the-job activities and assessments, and online learning has allowed participants to access information from both desktop or mobile devices.

At the height of COVID-19, safety and technical training for apprentices in dangerous environments was enhanced with virtual reality modules, and career development training - once restricted to offerings from an RTO - was broadened to include self-directed offerings from digital libraries and curated videos.

SA Power Networks recognises that quality training improves productivity and employee engagement. Today, more than 550 apprentices and in excess of 220 engineering graduates employed by the business since 2003 are successfully performing in supervisory and leadership positions across the organisation.

Industry Collaboration

Name of collaboration: Shipbuilding Readiness Training Program

Collaboration partners: ASC Shipbuilding, Department for Education and TAFE SA

When ASC Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of BAE Systems Australia, was awarded the contract to build the next generation of Royal Australian Navy anti-submarine warfare frigates, it knew an innovative approach was needed to prepare its current and future workforce for the task.

The contract - the largest surface shipbuilding project in Australian naval history - will be delivered across the next three decades, with ASC Shipbuilding replacing the Navy’s current fleet of ANZAC class frigates with nine new Hunter class frigates.

In 2019, to build a pipeline of future employees and position the organisation to deliver on its ongoing commitment to the project, ASC Shipbuilding initiated discussions with the Department for Education and TAFE SA, engaging the state’s schools and the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector in the creation of an innovative new Shipbuilding Readiness Training Program.

The flexible, school-based program - which celebrated its first intake of students in 2020 - introduces young South Australians to a range of future career options. Participants are exposed to real life, on job experiences in a modern, digital naval shipyard, giving both the student and ASC Shipbuilding the opportunity to consider their suitability for, and interest in, further opportunities with the organisation.

Participants who progress to a school-based apprenticeship (Certificate III) are supported to complete their South Australian Certificate of Education, while simultaneously becoming a member of the ASC Shipbuilding crew and developing the critical trade and employability skills needed for their future careers.

The groundbreaking program offers a new approach to the delivery of VET in schools and has established a model that could be replicated across a range of industries and in metropolitan, regional and remote locations around Australia.

To engage school communities in the newly-developed program, collaboration partners conduct regular information sessions with students, parents, teachers, career counsellors and VET lecturers, helping them to understand the career paths available, the characteristics of a successful trainee/apprentice, and the value a Certificate II in Engineering or Electrical Pathways can add to the career journey of a young person.

This year, ASC Shipbuilding received 39 applications from students at 20 South Australian schools, each keen to get involved with the program. Almost half of those who applied (18 students) were ultimately offered traineeships with the organisation.

The positive outcomes achieved during the Shipbuilding Readiness Training Program’s first year of operation meant the program gained significant interest from schools across the state, with an increased number now planning to offer the pathways qualifications to their student cohort in the years ahead.

The Department for Education has experienced an increase in demand for school-based VET programs, supporting the establishment of additional Certificate II in Engineering Pathways opportunities.

ASC Shipbuilding embraces diversity and inclusivity and the organisation is currently considering a range of targeted initiatives designed to grow the number of applications received from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and female students, as well as other non-traditional apprenticeship groups.

Recruitment for 2021 intakes is now underway.

Shortlisted Candidates

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

  • Anthony St Clair
  • Tyler Rigney Garrett

Apprentice of the Year

  • Jack Bonetti
  • Rhys Ferrari
  • Josh Loehr
  • Thomas Murgatroyd

School-based Apprentice of the Year

  • Sarah Donnelly
  • James Kieboom
  • Jayden Hewitson
  • Natasha Hobbs
  • Charlotte Simmons

Trainee of the Year

  • Lizzy-Rose McGeorge
  • Georgia Heatley

Vocational Student of the Year

  • Michael Kayal
  • Amy Mitchell
  • Caitlin Polack
  • Mikayla Herbert
  • Shelby Meyers
  • Sophie Goode

VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year

  • Michelle Babich
  • Bhu Chung
  • Laure Vincent-Allard
  • Melissa Willson

Training Provider of the Year

  • Adelaide Institute of Hospitality
  • Independent Institute of Food Processing

Small Employer of the Year

  • The Little Red Grape
  • SR Stone

Medium Employer of the Year

  • No shortlisted candidates

Large Employer of the Year

  • Byrnecut Australia

Industry Collaboration Award

  • DXC Technology, TAFE SA and MEGT
  • Defence Teaming Centre, Heavypoint and TAFE SA
  • Regional Development Australia Yorke & Mid North, TAFE SA, Regional Employment Trials (Department of Education, Skills and Employment), OZ Minerals, Nyrstar and McMahon Services