Where are they now – Richard Stocker

Twelve years ago Richard Stocker won the WA Trainee of the Year. Richard was completing his second traineeship as a process plant operator when he won the award and has now gone on to become Sales Manager for international company Stork, a Fluor Company and Director of the Australian Institute for Non-Destructive Testing.

R Stocker Photo“Winning the award really gave my career a kick start and although I haven’t returned to a similar role, the experience was invaluable,” said Richard. “The award certainly opened up leadership positions very quickly. Some of the events that surrounded the Awards, like taking part in the Today’s Skills, Tomorrow’s Leaders program and the New Apprentice Roundtable, really gave me the skills to enter the management team with confidence.”

After completing his traineeship, Richard moved to the Pilbara and took up a position as a Non-Destructive Testing Technician at the Iron Ore Port. He soon moved on to a site supervisor position and then earned a promotion running the WA operations for Australia’s largest NDT company.

“I’m enjoying some frequent travel and meeting with clients and like-minded people, which keeps me engaged and interested in what I’m doing. My position as a Director gives me the opportunity to play an integral part in deciding the way forwards for the institute and allows me to give back to an industry that has given me so much in the past,” said Richard.

For Richard, the best thing about being involved in the WA Training Awards program and representing WA at the Australian Training Awards was meeting and networking with other finalists and like minded professionals.

“I still maintain close contact with the finalists and winners from other states and territories,” he said.

Richard’s advice for any trainee starting their career is to take up every opportunity available to you and to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

“Don’t ever say no to a job, opportunity or training. Everything opens doors and sends you on your way to bigger and better things. Also, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re too young or inexperienced to do what you want to do. Hard work and enthusiasm trumps experience any day of the week!”

Applications for this year’s WA Training Awards close on Friday 5 May 2017. If you want to take your career to the next level, put yourself in the spotlight and apply today at dtwd.wa.gov.au/trainingawards.


Judges’ tips for writing an Award winning application

Putting together an application for this year’s Awards and need some advice? Who better to hear from than the panel members who’ll be assessing your application! Below are the top tips from last year’s individual and organisation judging panel members. Take these into consideration and your application could make the top of this year’s pile.



What makes an application clearly stand out and easy for you to put in the shortlist pile?

“An applicant that has clearly answered all the questions and is very clear about how their training will help them in the future.” – Kristie Carlile, individual category judge 2016.

What’s your best tip for writing an application that will get shortlisted?

“Take your time and don’t rush the application, as that is the first thing the judges see which is a representation of you. So you want to make sure you have introduced yourself, your goals and your passion articulately.” – Olivia Ruston, individual category judge 2016.


What should applicants include in their application?

“The training awards are about training and education so we would be looking to see how applicants came to study, why they chose the course they did and how they plan to use or make a difference with the training they have received.” – Kristie Carlile, individual category judge 2016.

What should you avoid putting in your application?

“Avoid mentioning experiences from other jobs and focus on your current apprenticeship or traineeship when answering each of the questions.” – Bethany Clarke, individual category judge 2016.


What makes an application clearly stand out and easy for you to put in the shortlist pile?

“Program/service outcomes need to be clearly defined – it can sometimes take a judge a few reads to determine how the program/service has improved over a period of time. It is also good to understand the success of the students post the program and see a comparison percentage of outcomes against state trends. So ensure quantitative data is provided to demonstrate outcomes, rather than elaborate generalised statements and present the information in a logical and well formatted manner.” – Anne Stannard, organisation category judge 2016

What’s your best tip for writing an application that will get shortlisted?

“I would suggest the applicant carefully analyses the question being asked and answers this in a methodical and clear manner, demonstrating their experience using the strongest examples relevant to the question.” – Rhonda Jamieson, organisation category judge 2016

What should applicants include in their application?

“When reading applications it is great to see a statement backed up with clear examples. Provide relevant evidence to support your statements. Be clear which award you are applying for and ensure your answers address the selection criteria.” – Rob Mitchell, organisation category judge 2016


What should applicants avoid in writing their application?

“Avoid being vague or assuming the judges will know what the applicant is explaining. Clearly respond to the questions and demonstrate experience.” – Rhonda Jamieson, organisation category judge 2016


Applications close on Friday 5 May 2017. Put yourself or your organisation in the spotlight and submit yours today! dtwd.wa.gov.au/trainingawards

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

Ambassadors at the Training Providers Forum

The Training Providers Forum is WA’s leading forum on training and workforce development. Held over two days on 30 and 31 May 2016, the forum was attended by over 350 trainers, representatives and industry decision makers from private training providers, TAFE, industry training councils, schools, universities and government departments.

Each year, several WA Training Awards ambassadors attend the Training Providers Forum; an opportunity that allows our ambassadors to network with training professionals and inspire the audience with their stories and training journeys. This year Sandra Van Der Gaag – WA and Australian Trainee of the Year 2015, Jared Stone – WA and Australian Apprentice of the Year 2015 and Taylor Wood – WA School-based Apprentice of the Year 2014 and runner-up Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year 2014 participated in the Training Providers Forum.

“I was excited to be asked to speak at the WA Training Providers Forum. It’s a venue where real change can happen and I was pleased that the forum wanted to hear from students about our experiences and our training journey. Too many people still think that if you want to be a professional then you have to go to university. VET has a number of training pathways that can lead to management positions and professional career paths in corporate and industry roles,” said Sandra Van Der Gaag.

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Jared, Sandra and Taylor took part in a valuable panel discussion on Student perspectives of VET and what can be done to improve the student experience.

“The panel was a great way to see diversity between the different pathways that vocational education and training has to offer. There needs to be major change in the VET sector in regards to how people view the training. I believe it starts with schools. We need to educate people more about the VET sector, from there we expand out to parents and the wider community,” said Taylor Wood.

“The panelists all shared similar positives about their training like employment opportunity and growing as a person. And at the same time we shared basically the same opinion about what could be done better, things like the stigma surrounding VET as a ‘2nd best’ option in comparison to tertiary pathways, with its need to be dispelled,” commented Jared Stone.

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Organisation winners Crown Perth – WA and Australian Employer of the Year 2015, Newton Moore Education Support Centre – WA School Pathways to VET 2015 and Central Regional TAFE (formerly Durack Institute of Technology) – WA Large Training Provider of the Year 2015 also took led various sessions at the forum, showcasing best practice and innovation in the training sector.

Winning a WA Training Award positions you as an ambassador for the training sector. Forums and events such as the Training Providers Forum are opportunities for our winners to share their stories, knowledge and insight on the benefits of training and what improvements can be made for the future.

“Invariably the feedback we get from our delegates is that they love to hear the award winners’ stories; especially from the students. The passion and enthusiasm for training that the award winners demonstrate can remind our delegates why they got into teaching in the first place,” said Robert Couzens – one of the Training Providers Forum organisers.

Applications are currently being shortlisted and we look forward to meeting our next ambassadors later in the year. Visit the Being an ambassador page on the WA Training Awards website or read our post What does it means to be a training ambassador? featuring 2014 winners Kathryn Schache and Geoff Franklin to find out more.

Why apply for a WA Training Award?

The WA Training Awards are your chance to put yourself or your organisation in the spotlight and be recognised for your skills or your contribution to the training sector. The Awards provide the chance to celebrate your training successes and compete against your peers, whether they be individuals or organisations.

5 great benefits for individuals

  1. $5000 from your category sponsor to help kick start your career or further your training.
  2. Recognition from your peers as the best in the State!
  3. Opportunity to represent WA at the Australian Training Awards in Hobart in November (does not include WA Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Training Award)
  4. Networking with other high achievers and potential employers at a State and National level.
  5. Employers will value your dedication and achievement.
Taylor Wood, WA School Based Apprentice of the Year 2014

Taylor Wood, WA School Based Apprentice of the Year 2014 and Runner Up Australian School Based Apprentice of the Year 2014


“Entering the WA training awards was never about winning to me, it was about taking the opportunity to show students in the VET system that it is our time to shine.”



Gino Auriemma, WA Vocational Student of the Year 2014

Gino Auriemma, WA Vocational Student of the Year 2014




“Winning the WA Training Award has has led to new opportunities for me and my family run building company. You’ll never know how worthy your efforts are unless you enter.”



5 great benefits for organisations

  1. A prize to the value of $8000 from your category sponsor.
  2. Recognition from your peers as the best in the State!
  3. Opportunity to represent WA at the Australian Training Awards in Hobart in November (eligible categories only).
  4. Publicity and promotional opportunities for your organisation.
  5. Increased profile to potential students/apprentices/trainees/employees.
NECA College of Electrical Training, WA Large Training Provider of the Year 2014

NECA College of Electrical Training, WA Large Training Provider of the Year 2014



“The win reaffirmed my belief that the professionalism, dedication and commitment of the CET staff is second to none. The application process afforded us the opportunity to reassess how we operate and provided opportunity to improve.”




Central Institute of Technology, WA and Australian International Training Provider of the Year 2014

Central Institute of Technology, WA and Australian International Training Provider of the Year 2014


“Students look for prestige in a training provider so having the training award logo attached to your marketing material is a huge advantage. For our staff, the win is particularly rewarding because it recognises their dedication and skill in what can be a difficult job. More broadly the win endorses Central’s strategic approach to the expansion of ourinternational business.”

Applications for the WA Training Awards 2015 are now open. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the State’s best, put yourself in the spotlight and you could be reaping these benefits and many more!

Head to our website and apply today!