School-based training for a successful future

Thalia Wilkinson won WA School-based Apprentice of the Year 2015. While still at school, Thalia was interested in a career in electrical engineering and robotics so she chose to do a school-based apprenticeship with a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician to kick start her path in the electrical field.


“It made sense to me to do an Electrical Apprenticeship because not only does it provide many opportunities career wise but we use it every day. Not only would it help me personally doing simple maintenance around the house but it would allow me to travel and find a job anywhere I went.”

For Thalia, the benefits of starting her apprenticeship while still at school were not just the industry knowledge and experience she gained, but how it prepared her for full time work and allowed her to slowly build her knowledge and understanding of the workplace before leaving school.

“My school-based apprenticeship allowed me to prepare for my role for when I went full time by allowing me to experience small amounts of what would be required on a day to day basis over time. One day I would learn about the strenuous activity of fault finding, the next I would be spending most of my day filling in paperwork and after that cleaning and maintaining the electrical work in a community building. There is a lot to learn especially in an industry that is so diverse, so being able to learn a little bit each time helped me a lot and ensured I was prepared when I continued my apprenticeship full time.”

Thalia finished school at the end of 2015 and gained a full time apprenticeship with her employer Collins Electrical. She is loving what she’s doing and feeling more and more able to take on tasks independently.

“Being an apprentice full time compared to a part time school-based apprentice is very different. I have gained more on the job experience, been given more tasks to complete by myself and in a team and I do generally feel more a part of the company now that I am there full time. The only down side I can say is having to get up early five days a week but that is something I can easily overcome (with time).”


Thalia is the only female electrician in her team. While it’s not always easy, she won’t let that stand in the way of achieving her goals.

“Being a female in a male dominated area is a challenging issue I face every day. However these are the things I take in my stride. I can’t wait to see the day where gender is not an issue in this line of work as I would prefer to receive compliments for the quality of my work and not for my gender.”

Thalia encourages more female students to take up the challenge and go for their dreams, regardless of the gender history of their chosen industry.

“Nothing should hold you back from doing something that you want to try out or enjoy and there should be no reason why females shouldn’t get into traditionally male dominated roles.”

If you’d like to know more about school-based apprenticeships, traineeships or VET in Schools programs, visit the Department of Training and Workforce Development’s School students page or talk to your school’s VET Coordinator

What to look forward to at this year’s WA Training Awards Presentation Dinner

It’s just four weeks until this year’s WA Training Awards Presentation Dinner and we’re getting very excited about the amazing celebration we have planned for this year’s finalists and winners. Tickets are on sale now, so make sure you book yours online via


For many of our stakeholders, attending the WA Training Awards has become something to look forward to each September and for our first time finalists, this event is your opportunity to celebrate your achievements and be acknowledged for the hard work and dedication you’ve shown.


The venue

The WA Training Awards 2016 Presentation Dinner will be held in the BelleVue Ballroom at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Mounts Bay Road, Perth.

When you arrive you’ll be greeted by the WA Training Awards team at the registration desk where you can collect your name badge and check out the seating plan to determine where you’ll be seated in the ballroom. Then relax with a pre-dinner drink and enjoy the beautiful views over the Swan River and Elizabeth Quay before the formalities commence.


Gala glamour

The BelleVue Ballroom will be set out in grandeur, with tables dressed for 550 guests and our roving spotlights highlighting the stars among our attendees. We’ll be putting on a great audio visual experience for everyone to really get into the feel of the night. This is your opportunity to dress to impress. The dress code for the night is lounge suit or cocktail attire. Our photographer will be on hand to snap guests as they arrive looking stunning on the red carpet. Check out our photo gallery or Facebook photos from previous years for ideas.


The celebration

Official proceedings will commence and 7pm and that’s when the real celebrations start. With speeches from some of our distinguished guests as well as updates from our 2015 individual winners throughout the night you’ll feel truly accomplished and excited for what could be ahead in the next 12 months. Throughout the evening you’ll be treated to quality WA food and beverages. All finalists will be acknowledged on stage and the 2016 winners of this year’s WA Training Awards will be announced!


During the dinner break, you can enjoy the relaxing tones of Aurora Acoustics – a Perth-based duo studying music at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Once the official proceedings are complete, dance the night away to Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys with jazz, rhythm and blues covers from the 40s to now and celebrate your success on the dance floor.

It’s sure to be another great Awards celebration so get your tickets today! Bookings close Friday 9 September 2016.

You’ve put in the hard yards – what happens next?

Congratulations to all of this year’s WA Training Awards finalists!

This year we have 42 finalists contending for honours in this year’s awards. You should all be very proud of yourselves for all the hard work you’ve put in to get to this stage of the competition.

So what happens next?

Well the good news is – the hard work is done! Individuals have completed their interviews and organisations have now completed site visits with their panels. You’ve done all you can do and now it’s up to our judging panels to make the very difficult decision of selecting winners for each category.

Sit back, put your feet up for a few weeks and find yourself an outfit to wear to this year’s WA Training Awards Presentation Dinner!

The Presentation Dinner


The WA Training Awards 2016 Presentation Dinner will be held in the BelleVue Ballroom at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday 23 September 2016. Bookings for this year’s event are now open and invitations have now been sent out, so look out for yours in the post and recruit your friends, family and colleagues to come along and celebrate your success to date.

At the Presentation Dinner, all finalists will be recognised on stage and the winner of each category will be announced.

Winners in eligible categories will have the opportunity to represent WA at the Australian Training Awards in Darwin this November.

Visit our website for more details on the WA Training Awards process and booking tickets for this year’s event.

We can’t wait to see you there!

Organisation site visits – how to stand out from the rest

For organisations, the WA Training Awards are not only an opportunity to recognise the great work your organisation and staff have done, they are also an opportunity to be recognised on the national stage as the best in the State and potentially the best in the country at what you do.

If your organisation has been selected as a category finalist in 2016, you will participate in an on-site visit and interview with your category’s judging panel between 25 July and 5 August 2016.

We’ve put together a few tips to help you prepare for your site visit and create a memorable experience for your judging panel.

DNA Kingston 5

How to structure your site visit

Your site visit is an opportunity to demonstrate in a practical sense the great work your organisation is doing within training.

It’s up to you how you wish to structure your site visit. Ideally at some point you’ll want to give the panel a tour of the facilities and the panel will want to ask you a few questions. You may wish to give a short presentation about your organisation to introduce your organisation to the panel, or you may do this during your tour depending on what works for you. A sample structure might be:

  • Introduction to the panel
  • Tour the facilities
  • Question time – where the panel will ask you a few questions relating to your organisation and application with regards to the selection criteria.

Crown Perth 5

Include relevant staff, students and trainers in your site visit

The best site visits/interviews are those that include staff/students undertaking training, and those from your organisation who are heavily involved in the management of the program.

All staff involved in the site visit should be familiar with the written application submitted by your organisation and the aim of the award category.

Consider what makes your organisation/program excellent

The WA Training Awards are about rewarding excellence. Our judging panels will be looking for evidence of where your program/organisation goes above and beyond to achieve a positive outcome for staff/students as applicable.

DurackMarine & Acquaculture

Think outside the square

If you want to stand out from the other finalists, think outside the square and make your site visit interesting for the panel. Keep it relevant, but incorporate what it is that makes your organisation unique to provide the panel with a memorable experience and understanding of your organisation.

If you have any questions about your upcoming site visit, contact your panel’s executive officer or contact the WA Training Awards team at

How to impress the judges at your Semi-finalist Judging Day interview

Congratulations to all of our individual applicants who have made it through to the next stage – the Semi-finalist Judging Day sponsored by MEGT on Friday 15 July.

With just a few more days to prepare before your interview, we’ve put together a few points to help you impress your judging panel and stand out from the rest during your interview.

Ryan D'Souza 6


  1.  1. Preparation

The key to any interview is to be prepared. The judges will be looking for someone who ‘knows their stuff’. It’s been several months since you submitted your application so make sure you re-acquaint yourself with the selection criteria and what you included in your responses. Use the interview preparation pack provided to you to practice with some sample interview questions and start thinking about some real work examples you can use in your responses. This will help you to feel more prepared for what’s to come during your interview.



  1. Confidence

For most people, interviews have a habit of making us nervous. But keep in mind, the judging panel want you to succeed. They’ve read your application and shortlisted you because they saw something in you that impressed them and they want to meet you in person. Remember you are in that room for a reason and you deserve to be there. The WA Training Awards is an ambassadorial program, therefore our judging panels will be looking for confident ambassadors for the training sector; people who can inspire others into training.

1602 DTWD7 132 1


  1. A point of difference

The WA Training Awards are about rewarding excellence. Excellence most often shines through when someone is different and unique. Think about what your point of difference is. What is it that makes you, your story and your training pathway unique? How can your experiences inspire others to get into a training pathway?


  1. VET sector and industry knowledge

As an ambassador for the WA training sector it’s important to have a good understanding of your industry and the VET sector. Talk to your employer, trainer or your industry training council to get some advice on the current workforce situation and where your industry fits into the bigger picture.



  1. Put yourself at the centre

This interview is about you. Although you may work in a team, you may follow directions from a line manager and you may do group assignments and projects, the panel want to hear about YOU specifically. Instead of focussing on how your organisation implemented something – talk about your role in this implementation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with discussing projects with a team focus but when preparing for your interview and practising responses, try to avoid using the word ‘we’. Think about what you have done specifically and what the outcomes of your specific actions were in the project/example. For this awards program, it’s important to be able to sell yourself and your accomplishments with humility.


  1. Relatability

The judges will be looking for someone who is relatable. This refers to your personality, but also to your ability to relate your experiences to those of others. As an ambassador you will be talking to people who are interested in many different career paths at many different points in their lives. The panel will be looking for someone who can take their training pathway and experiences to provide advice for others who may be interested in taking up training, regardless of the industry area.

Taylor Wood at the 2014 WA Training Awards



If you have any further questions about your upcoming interview, feel free to get in contact with the WA Training Awards team at

Kahli’s Journey to become a WA Police Officer

In 2015 Kahli King Elliott was the winner of the WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year award. As one of the few young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cadets in the WA Police, Kahli’s dedication, passion and vigilance have set her up for a long and successful career.

“Ever since I was in high school, I have wanted to join the ‘forces’. I started my career with the WA Police by doing a two year Police Cadet Traineeship, where I also completed a Certificate III in Business. Then in February 2016 I started at the WA Police Academy as a recruit.”

“Studying business has provided me with valuable skills that have definitely helped me through my training at the Police Academy and also will assist when working at the Police Stations.”

1602 DTWD7 037 smaller

Kahli hopes the skills she’s gained through the Certificate III in Business will open up more opportunities for her within WA Police as she progresses through the ranks in her career.

Kahli grew up in Kununurra in the Kimberly region of Western Australia where much of her family still resides. It was there that she participated in The Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s Follow the Dream program as a teenager, setting the wheels in motion for Kahli to take on further training to pursue her goals.

“The Follow the Dream program provided me with special one on one tutoring with teachers after school, which helped me a great deal with achieving in school. The camps that I attended helped me better my team work skills and confidence when speaking in front of people. This program, in many ways, helped me become a better role model for younger Aboriginal people.”

“I think it is important for everyone, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to undertake a training course because it opens up so many opportunities within the workforce.”

Kahli (2) smaller

Kahli’s advice to others considering taking on a training course or following their dream career path is not to let other people hold you back from doing something you want to do.

“It is your choice what career you want to pursue, so don’t let anything or anyone stop you from achieving it.”

As an ambassador for the WA training sector and WA Police, Kahli is a strong advocate for increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the WA Police force and the workforce in general. Over the past two years Kahli has worked with the WA Police schools programs to encourage young people to move into a career they love. Kahli is due to graduate from the WA Police Academy in August 2016 and we look forward to following her career.

Amanda Smith on training and the community

Amanda Smith, WA and Australian Trainer of the Year 2011, is a hospitality lecturer in the South West. Amanda’s successful training programs such as the ‘Paddock to Plate’ initiative integrate industry, employers and farmers. Here Amanda tells us about how the program continues to influence students and demonstrates the impact valuable training can have on the broader community.


‘Paddock to Plate’ seeks to give students a true appreciation and understanding of local and regional produce, telling the stories behind the food and how it makes it to the table.

This specialised foods unit came about as I felt our second year apprentice chefs were perhaps too familiar working with food which was already processed: arriving in their kitchens picked, pressed, slaughtered, sliced or packaged.

The unit is highly practical in its nature, encompassing field trips to meet with farmers, foragers, olive oil experts, truffle growers, sheep’s milk cheese producers and aquaculture marron producers who are generous with time and knowledge.

Talking to farmers and producers means the students respect and understanding of regional produce has improved.  For many students it is the first time they have spoken with producers at the grass roots level; it is great to witness the farmers’ passion for their product and the students’ unfolding appreciation.  Many questions are asked and new relationships are forged.  This promotes a robust understanding of a range of concepts around ethical production, sustainability factors, product costs versus large scale or industrial practices and ability to educate through shared food knowledge.

Amanda Smith (9).JPG

Last year we worked with free range pig farmer Nigel Lovejoy. Nigel is from a generation of local farming families with a wide and diverse knowledge of the area. The students engaged with him on farming and pig rearing, including the pigs’ family life and genetics, sustainability, slaughter practices and differences between shed reared and free range pigs. They got to drive around the farm paddocks and feed the sow families with their two week old piglets at foot. These engaging experiences offer context of place and ability to interact with live animals and seek farming knowledge.

At Olio Bello organic olive oil farm, the students speak with an olive oil expert, have a guided tasting and watch a pressing of olives.  The students have an opportunity to taste the unfiltered Nuovo (new) oil taken from the press directly as it is milled, an experience that is not usually available for the general  public.  The new oil exhibits a raw and intense flavour profile and is unlike any other tasting, directly from product to palate.

Many chefs are aware of the paddock to plate unit for their apprentices and support the students learning. The ability in the training kitchen to experiment with produce and flavour profiles of produce from different field trips are showcased by the students in a long table lunch held at the end of the unit.

Paddock to Plate filters through regional community, chefs and producers, inspiring further knowledge and experiences for trainers and students alike.

A benefit of regional food knowledge is being tasked with looking after all celebrity chefs main stage demonstrations at the annual Margaret River Gourmet Escape event.  International chefs enjoy learning about our produce and utilising it in their event dishes.  Students help with the preparation and get to meet many of their food heroes.

Amanda Smith (18).JPG

Many of my students also volunteer at Truffle Kerfuffle – an annual celebration of all things truffle in Manjimup in late June, working alongside chefs with regional produce master classes, lunch and dinner events.

Winning the WA Training Award and the Australian Training Award as a VET chef lecturer allowed me to go on a foodie trip of a lifetime to France.  The visits I organised culminated in a broad range of experiences and knowledge I use in my classes today. Particularly, the knowledge and concepts surrounding regional, artisanal produced food like cheeses, bakery products and chocolate as well as seasonal produce such as meats, charcuterie and vegetables. I also visited culinary schools in both Paris and London and learnt new skills. These experiences provided me with a strong knowledge base and inspiration for students to explore their working career through travel and culture.

The winner of the WA Trainer of the Year 2016 will receive a $5000 training grant from Training Accreditation Council to further their skills and knowledge in their industry and develop their training practices. Programs like Amanda Smith’s Paddock to Plate, continue to inspire the WA Training Awards judges and we look forward to meeting this year’s semi-finalists.  Find out more about the WA Training Awards at