Congratulations to the 11 winners and all the finalists of the Tropical North Queensland region.

Thank you to everyone who attended the regional final, held on 7 July 2023 at the Cairns Convention Centre.

The winners will now represent their region at the state final on 9 September 2023 in Brisbane.

Harry Hauenschild Apprentice of the Year

Winner: Kohan Hanby

Qualification: Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade (Boilermaking/Welding)
Training provider: TAFE Queensland
Employer: Hanby Welding and Engineering

Kohan Hanby left school at 15 to pursue his passion for welding with his family's business. He brought computer assisted drawing and automated manufacturing experience to the workshop and pursued additional welding qualifications, including Ticket 7 and ISO9606, which is a major achievement for someone so early in their career. In 2022 he was named Weld Australia's Young Tradesperson of the Year and TAFE Queensland's Engineering Apprentice and Outstanding Apprentice of the Year.

Regional finalists

Cody Devereux-Phillips, Certificate III in Mobile Plant Technology
Massie Zamiak, Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician

Bob Marshman Trainee of the Year

Winner: Emily Nancarrow

Qualification: Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping
Training provider: Australian College of Commerce and Management
Employer: A1 Bookkeeping Cairns

Emily Nancarrow started her first e-commerce business and found a gap in the market for young entrepreneurs in finance. Emily decided to enter the industry herself and completed a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping as a trainee with A1 Bookkeeping Cairns. She excelled and received 3 student of the month awards during her studies with the Australian College of Commerce and Management. She now trains new staff and is enhancing her own industry expertise.

Regional finalists

Stella Adams-Jones, Certificate III in Business
Ceah-Maree Laifoo, Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care

Vocational Student of the Year

Winner: Jessica Addo

Qualification: Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
Training provider: TAFE Queensland
Employer: PCYC Cairns West

Jessica Addo wanted to work in education after getting involved in her daughter's learning as she started school. After completing her Certificate IV and a Diploma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education through RATEP and TAFE Queensland, Jessica now works as a PCYC outside school hours care manager and is studying for her Bachelor of Education. Jessica is aiming to work in remote schools and make a positive change wherever she can.

Regional finalists

Ursula Donnellan, Diploma of Payroll Services
Clarissa McLachlan, Certificate IV in Water Industry Operations

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year

Winner: Shaniqua Burke

Qualification: Certificate III in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care
Training provider: TAFE Queensland
Employer: Apunipima Cape York Health Council

Shaniqua Burke is dedicated to studying her Certificate III in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care to give back to her community. She gained knowledge and skills in basic health care, screening processes, and advocating for community member rights and needs. Working with Apunipima Cape York Health Council she is excited to be supporting a social prescribing trial this year, the first ever to be led by an Aboriginal health worker in Australia.

Regional finalists

Nila Billy, Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Coxswain Grade 1 Near Coastal)
Massie Zamiak, Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician

School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year

Winner: Kyezaya Namai-Sabatino

Qualification: Certificate II in Engineering
Training provider: TAFE Queensland
Group training organisation: MRAEL
Host employer: Rio Tinto Weipa
School: Western Cape College Weipa

Kyezaya Namai-Sabatino is a Year 12 Western Cape College student completing his MRAEL school-based traineeship in diesel fitting with Rio Tinto, Weipa. Kyezaya has found working with heavy machinery fascinating, and his strong work ethic has seen him learning all the elements of his trade as well as being 2023 School Vice-Captain and Sports Captain. He is also involved in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aspirations program at school where he was a state finalist last year.

Regional finalists

Jordan Rashid Mohammed, Certificate III in Retail
Karl Ocate, Certificate II in Engineering

Equity Student of the Year

Winner: Htoo Khaing

Qualification: Certificate I in Construction
Training provider: SkillCentred Queensland
Employer: Centacare FNQ

Htoo Khaing, a refugee from Myanmar, settled in Australia with his family and despite previous construction experience, needed local qualifications to secure employment, He enrolled in the Certificate I in Construction through Centacare FNQ's UpCycling project and received extensive support from his supervisors and his bicultural support worker and has now secured a full-time position as a valued member of Mark Fletcher Constructions.

Regional winners

Akiko Murao, Certificate I in Workplace Skills
Rose Skeen, Pathway to Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care

VET Teacher or Trainer of the Year

Winner: Brandon Felix

Employer: St Andrew's Catholic College

Brandon Felix is a qualified chef and certified hospitality and cookery trainer at St Andrew's Catholic College with over a decade of experience. His training methodologies use real-world work environments and focus on high demand skills and techniques. Brandon has established a culinary team for competitions and a sister school relationship in Thailand. He is committed to maintaining his own industry currency and is passionate about using local suppliers.

Regional finalists

Graeme 'Percy' Pershouse, Pro-Lift Training FNQ
Tracey Wyer, STEPS Group Australia

Community Training Initiative of the Year

Winner: Anglicare North Queensland

Program: Healthy Communities Project

Anglicare North Queensland has provided comprehensive support services to vulnerable people in the region since 1985. Fostering connections between unemployed people and local organisations, employers, and government agencies it also collaborates to address workforce gaps and offer fun, individual or group sessions to support accredited training and skills development. It provides tailored support, navigating personal circumstances such as homelessness, and domestic and family violence.

Regional finalists

Fiji Community Association Far North Queensland – Our Youth Our Future
Gunggandji Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples Prescribed Body Corporate Aboriginal Corporation – GMYPPBC Ranger Program

Large Employer of the Year

Winner: HSA Group

HSA Group (a joint partnership between John Holland, Seymour Whyte and AECOM) was chosen to design and construct the Cairns Southern Access Corridor Stage 3 project, as part of the Queensland Government's Bruce Highway Upgrade Program. Its high performance is underpinned by a positive learning and skills development culture for hundreds of workers. This approach has seen them exceed training targets, encourage women in construction and support the Indigenous community to pursue careers.

Regional finalists

CaPTA Group
My Pathway

Medium Employer of the Year

Winner: Tableland Veterinary Service
(07) 4096 7500

Tableland Veterinary Service is a mixed practice in North Queensland that has grown substantially increasing staff numbers from 56 to 103 since 2019. With 6 clinics and remote outreach services, they invest heavily in training and development, including vocational training in veterinary nurses, and leadership training for admin staff. Their core values of staying humble and solving problems contributes to their growth, increase revenue, and recognition as a great workplace.

Regional finalists

Robinson Civil Group

Small Employer of the Year

Winner: Mark Fletcher Solid Plaster and Texture Coatings
0410 758 553

Mark Fletcher Solid Plaster and Texture Coatings is a successful residential and commercial rendering company. Owner, Mark Fletcher, employs 15 staff including 6 refugees from Nepal, Bhutan, and Burma – 2 of whom have gone on to become qualified tradesmen and team leaders. The company's dedication and commitment to staff is evident via the opportunities offered to both trade and administrative employees via apprenticeships, diploma courses and innovative training techniques.

Regional finalists

Cheshire Contractors
Tokunai Hair

Last updated 8 July 2023

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