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Education Training, Government NSW

2024 Central & Northern Sydney Training Awards celebrate excellence in Vocational Education and Training

NSW Department of Education 3 mins read

The region's most outstanding people and organisations working and learning in the vocational education and training (VET) sector have been recognised at this year’s Central and Northern Sydney Regional Training Awards.


The event celebrated the achievements of all category winners including apprentices, trainees, students, businesses, and trainers that champion vocational education. 


Special recognition was given to two young women, Lauren Calleja and Tiana Riley, who took top honours at the 2024 Central and Northern Sydney Training Awards ceremony held last night at Doltone House, Darling Island Wharf.


Lauren was named Apprentice of the Year. With a passion for fixing things, she discovered that an engineering-mechanical apprenticeship was the perfect fit. Since then, she has dedicated herself to learning about the engineering trade in the Maritime and Defence industry.


Now a tradesperson, Lauren is an impressive ambassador for her trade, sharing knowledge and skills with new apprentices and high school work-experience students who come to Garden Island to learn about the industry.


Tiana was honoured with the Trainee of the Year award for her outstanding dedication and performance in a demanding and fast-paced environment within the construction industry.


Tiana's motivation and drive to be a lifelong learner set her apart. She is confident and capable and takes the initiative to pursue new growth opportunities.


The finalists and winners at the Central and Northern Sydney regional awards exemplify the world-class VET sector in the region, highlighting the breadth of rewarding career opportunities offered by vocational education and training.  


Presented by Training Services NSW, the awards demonstrate the importance of providing real skills for real careers and highlight the NSW Government’s commitment to building a resilient and highly skilled workforce. 


Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education, Steve Whan 


"We know many jobs created in the next decade will require vocational qualifications. These awards celebrate the young workers, trainers and businesses working to ensure we meet this challenge." 


"Congratulations to Lauren and Tiana for their remarkable achievements. Their stories exemplify the transformative power of VET and the opportunities it creates for individuals to thrive and make a significant impact in their communities." 


Apprentice of the Year, Lauren Calleja, said: 


“Entering into a mechanical apprenticeship with Thales, I knew I would be fixing stuff and working on equipment. However, I had no idea how fascinating working on a navy and commercial vessel would be."


“Working with my teams, I have not only gained industry knowledge and experience working on some very unique equipment, but I have also made friendships along the way."


“Through VET, I’ve been able to understand the theory component of my role, which has enhanced my practical skills. Everything I learn in my classroom I put into practice in the workplace, and vice versa.”


Trainee of the Year, Tiana Riley, said: 


“I was intrigued by the construction sector because it is so diverse and offers a wide range of career pathways across the public and private sector."


“Having the opportunity to work in both regional and metro environments expanded my perspective of the industry and its complexity. It’s taught me how to adapt to vastly different work environments."


“The benefit of the traineeship is that I have been able to gain a nationally recognised qualification, gain experience in three very different workplaces and make valuable networks and connections.”


For more information on VET in NSW visit  


If you would like photos from last night’s event or to organise an interview, please contact:





Award Category



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Baylun Williams-Pinkie


Apprentice of the Year

Lauren Calleja

Mona Vale

School-based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year

Ivy Hain

Mona Vale

Trainee of the Year

Tiana Riley


VET in Schools Student of the Year

Jack George


VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year

Johanne Doherty


Vocational Student of the Year

Remie Collins





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