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Education Training

2024 New England Training Awards celebrate excellence in Vocational Education and Training?

NSW Department of Education 3 mins read

Note to editor: photos from the New England Regional Training Awards can be downloaded here.

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 New England 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 Mitchell Nairn and Jayden Townsend, who took top honours at the 2024 New England Regional Training Awards ceremony held last night at Tamworth Town Hall.   

Awarded the Apprentice of the Year for dedication to learning his trade, Mitchell completed his Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician an impressive 11 months early, while also studying for his Certificate IV in Rail Signalling. 

Mitchell credits his passion for his apprenticeship with a strong curiosity for the intricacies of electrical systems and their critical role in powering the modern world. 

Commended for his ability to tackle challenges and problem-solving ability, the Trainee of the Year category was awarded to Jayden who demonstrates compassion when working with vulnerable members of the community. 

Jayden is recognised for his work with children and young people, demonstrating empathy, inclusiveness, positivity and resilience in his work. As a trainee caseworker who has completed his Certificate IV in Community Services, Jayden is a valued member of his workplace and the community. 

The finalists and winners at the New England 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 said: 

"We know that every 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 Mitchell and Jayden 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, Mitchell Nairn, said: 

“My journey in the electrical and railway signalling fields has been marked by significant achievements and personal growth. 

“Obtaining my qualifications have not only provided me with valuable technical expertise but has also equipped me with a range of transferable skills that have positively impacted both my personal and professional life. 

“Balancing work with study has been a challenging yet rewarding journey, and it has equipped me with valuable skills in time management and perseverance.” 

Trainee of the Year, Jayden Townsend, said: 

“I knew that completing study through a Vocational Education and Training pathway would allow me to integrate practical components of working within the community with invaluable learning opportunities. 

“Having the opportunity to continue learning and growing within this industry through my traineeship has empowered me by providing new skills, opportunities, and insights from leading industry professionals. 

“This traineeship has truly provided me with the opportunity to gain a burning passion for this industry that I don’t think I will ever get enough of.” 

For more information on VET in NSW visit 


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year: Hank Flett, Hillvue 

  • Apprentice of the Year Mitchell: Nairn, Narrabri  

  • School-based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year: Philippa Schoupp, Pallamallawa  

  • Trainee of the Year: Jayden Townsend, Westdale  

  • VET in Schools Student of the Year: Gabriella Ward, Tamworth  

  • VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year: Simone Williams, Hillvue  

  • Vocational Student of the Year: Pauline Bush, South Guyra  

Contact details:

Duyen Nguyen on or 0417 227 375

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