Tasmania shines at National VET Training Awards

Jeremy Rockliff,Minister for Education and Training

The Hodgman majority Liberal Government is the strongest supporter of Tasmania’s vocational education and training (VET) sector and is delighted our students, teachers, training providers, schools and businesses have been recognised, including winning four national awards at the 26th Australian Training Awards in Brisbane last night.

The Australian Training Awards are the highest recognition of excellence in VET training in the country and this was Tasmania’s best result in a decade.

Debra Guntrip, of Devonport, was recognised for commitment through 26TEN and TasTAFE to improving the adult literacy and numeracy skills of employees in Tasmania to ensure workforces are equipped to support employees with low literacy.

Stephen Witkowski from Kingston, now an Environment Partner with Tassal who did his training with Seafood and Maritime Training, took out the national Trainee of the Year Award for commitment to the aquatic environment and applying his VET skills to take on roles and studies all over Australia.

Crusader Homes, based in New Norfolk, was named national Small Employer of the Year for commitment to giving the young Tasmanian apprentices an enjoyable and high-achieving experience and never to have them be out of pocket for their skills education.

Circular Head Christian School was recognised with the national School Pathways to VET Award for commitment to providing quality learning opportunities in Years 10-12 that are specifically pathway focussed for each student.

These high achieving Tasmanians took out the national awards against finalists from across Australia which highlights the great work being done in VET as a pathway for young Tasmanians to find a rewarding life-long career.

The Hodgman majority Liberal Government is continuing to invest significantly in VET in Tasmania and our plan is working. We have the highest completion rates in the country and have overseen a 10 per cent increase in trade apprentices. With more than 8800 apprentices and trainees currently coming through the system, we are building the workforce of the future that will support our growing economy.

Award details

Trainee of the Year – Stephen Witkowski

Certificate III in Aquaculture

Training Provider: Seafood and Maritime Training

Employer: Tassal

Stephen’s interest in the aquatic environment has seen him in roles and studies all over Australia.

What he gained from his Certificate III was practical skills beyond his academic studies: “This was the versatile accreditation I needed to help utilise and further develop my knowledge of fish husbandry and to be licensed to perform the daily farm activities”.

Stephen works as an Environment Partner with Tassal and chose the salmon industry “as I genuinely believe that pursuing a vision of a world where sustainability is paramount whilst acting in a role that can elicit real change is the best way to create a lasting legacy”.

Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice – Debra Guntrip


Debra Guntrip is a literary specialist who has been working in the language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) field for more than 20 years and is engaged in the delivery of LLN skills to employees through 26TEN funded grants. 26TEN is a network of organisations and individuals working together to improve adult literacy and numeracy in Tasmania.

Debra’s skills, experience and flexible approach allow her to meet both employer and employee needs and ensure workforces have improved skills, communicate more clearly and are equipped to support employees with low literacy, equipping them with the LLN skills they and future employees need for their job.

Small Employer of the Year – Crusader Homes

Crusader Homes vision is to build low cost high quality homes, focusing on the Derwent Valley.

While reading the paper and working in a job at the casino, Justin Derksen, the Principal Contractor and Director of Crusader Homes, decided to embark on a mature-aged apprenticeship that saw him go from a back-of-a-ute builder to the biggest builder in New Norfolk.

It was his aim to give the young apprentices an enjoyable and high-achieving experience and never to have them be out of pocket for their education at TAFE.

Crusader Homes further ensures that they employ locally so that the people who live in their hometown have a greater opportunity at employment. With the Derwent Valley’s unemployment rate being at around 8% and the youth unemployment being around 19%, the company strives to give young people a purpose.

School Pathways to VET – Circular Head Christian School

Circular Head Christian School (CHCS) is an Early Learning to Year 12 co-ed independent school In North-West Tasmania. It provides learning opportunities in Years 10-12 that are specifically pathway focused for each student.

The school’s desire is that each student will endeavour to be the best they can be. It provides a framework for building positive relationships to create an environment where learning is enhanced.

The school’s VET program is unique, in that it begins its pathway focused learning by expecting every Year 10 student to commence a certificate course in an area of interest, or that has transferable skills connected to their pathway plan.

The model incorporates two businesses that are owned and operated by the school – the Roaring Forties Oyster Farm and Edutec ICT.

These businesses are designed to provide authentic workplace experiences, while benefiting the wider school community. Students are able to develop skills while gaining employment and on the job training while completing their Tasmanian Certificate of Education.

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