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Congratulations to all the winners in the 2021 South Australian Training Awards.

Learn more about the winners across all categories of the 2021 South Australian Training Awards. Our congratulations to the individuals and organisations who were honoured at the presentation evening.

WINNER: Harrison Sanders

Certificate III in Carpentry
Trained by North East Vocational College
Employed by Hoffmann Building Services

Harrison’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) journey began in Year 11 when he undertook a Certificate II in Construction Pathways, following it with the completion of a partial Certificate III in Carpentry while completing Year 12, where he graduated with a 94.40 ATAR.

For the past five years, he has worked for Barossa Valley builder, Hoffmann Building Services, and – while completing his carpentry apprenticeship – he also commenced a Bachelor of Secondary Education at the University of South Australia, majoring in Design and Technology (D&T) and sub-majoring in Mathematics.

“I aim to bring trade knowledge and skills into classrooms to benefit students’ understanding and engagement with D&T,” says Harrison.

“I have drawn inspiration from many people throughout my education and training journey – most notably, from my teachers. Throughout school, I experienced both good and bad teachers. I want to be the positive influence that can guide and inform students to being successful and valuable members of society.”

Harrison cites one of his D&T teachers as the most encouraging he encountered – an ‘exceptionally knowledgeable’ former tradesman.

“I wanted to be like him! This VET educator encouraged my whole philosophy and career path,” he says.

Aiming to graduate from university with first class honours, Harrison’s goal is to become a positive inspiration through his teaching, influencing students to be successful, critical, and creative individuals.

He recently represented his employer by winning the Young Achiever Award for Most Outstanding Apprentice in 2019, and says he takes great pride in his achievements across the past decade.

“My goals will develop as I progress through further studies. VET and trade education pathways are also on my radar for the future,” says Harrison.

WINNER: Irshad Haidari

Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability)
Trained by Open Colleges School of Health
Employed by Cara (Community Accommodation and Respite Agency)

A disability support worker with Cara, Irshad Haidari completed his traineeship with Open Colleges School of Health in 2020, as part of a Skilling South Australia program designed to encourage people into lasting careers via traineeships and apprenticeships.

Born in Pakistan, Irshad is Afghan, and arrived in Australia in 2017 at the age of 20, when his father – who had migrated to the country a decade earlier – sponsored his Mum and four brothers to join him.

“As a kid, Australia was always the dream, a place where there is no discrimination, everyone is equal, and where, when you work hard, you can be a success,” says Irshad.

“I had a number of job roles, including working as a baker. Being a baker was good work, early mornings and really satisfying, but I wanted to work with people. Then one of my friends told me about disability support work.”

Irshad now works as part of a supported independent living team at Cara, providing support to two women in their twenties. The women he supports are non-verbal, requiring Irshad and his colleagues to carefully watch for non-verbal cues, communicating by reading body language, expression, and visual movements.

“When you do this work, you have a profound impact on someone’s life. You are a trusted person in their lives, and you help them to become more independent and confident in their abilities,” says Irshad.

With his workplace based in his customers’ home, Irshad provides support in all areas of life – including mealtime management, personal care, aqua therapy, community support and inclusion.

“My Certificate III qualification is just the beginning of my career working alongside people with disability,” says Irshad. “I would like to keep training, do my Certificate IV, and one day become an advocate for people with disability and their families ­– especially people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds like me, and people who have complex communication needs.”

WINNER: Thomas Alexander

Certificate II in Electrotechnology (Career Start)
Trained by PEER

2020 was a busy year for Thomas, who not only finished his SACE at Glenunga International High School, but also successfully completed a Certificate II in Electrotechnology (Career Start) through the PEER’S VET in School program at Norwood Morialta High School.

“Undertaking my Certificate II course through PEER was a turning point for me,” says Thomas. “It fuelled my passion for my chosen career path and has led to my electrical apprenticeship with PEER and my host employer, Ken Hall Plumbers.”

From a young age, Thomas was keen to help around the home – an interest his Dad fostered – and his fondness for all things trades-related soon became evident when, rather than snuggling up with soft toys at night, he was regularly found asleep in his bed alongside an array of toy hammers and screwdrivers.

“My grandfather was my inspiration to pursue a career path as an electrician,” he says. “He was an electrician who worked on projects including the Snowy Scheme, set up his own electrical business, and trained apprentices.”

The 2020 winner of PEER’s VET Student of the Year (Electrical), Thomas says he is excited by the infinite possibilities that await him in the future ­– and determined to realise his dreams of running his own business in the electrical industry, while continuing to engage in lifelong learning.

“I am grateful for the educational opportunities and mentorship that I have received, and I look forward to sharing what I have learnt, and to fostering and mentoring others in the future,” he says.

WINNER: Tameeka Bagnara

Certificate III in Hairdressing (apprenticeship pathway)
Trained by
The Parlour Hair Academy
Employed by
Station 95 Hair and Beauty

Enrolled in the Certificate III in Hairdressing (apprenticeship pathway) with The Parlour Hair Academy, Tameeka is also employed with successful, family owned and operated business, Station 95 Hair and Beauty Salon.

“I am proud to be their first apprentice,” says Tameeka. “After doing work experience and a trial, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I was fascinated by the hairdressing industry once I was exposed to it and felt a real passion to become a successful stylist.”

The runner up in December 2020’s South Australian Wella Professional ‘So you think you can colour?’ competition, Tameeka has been supported by her employer her throughout her apprenticeship – taking up additional training opportunities to learn about new products and return her learning to the workplace.

“My dream for the future is to own my own successful hair and beauty salon. As a proud South Australian young Aboriginal and future entrepreneur, I would like to train and inspire other Aboriginal young people to follow a career in this industry,” she says. “Like my employer, I would like to support other Aboriginal young people in their endeavours.”

Tameeka completed the Gladys Elphick Sisterhood Foundation Leadership and Personal Development Program, which assisted her to establish her goals and identify the learning required for career success.

“Auntie Gladys Elphick was an entrepreneur and a successful inventor in her time, and a role model for Aboriginal women. My Aboriginal grandmother, who raised me, is also my role model and has inspired me to be the best I can be,” she says.

After completing her apprenticeship, Tameeka plans to study small business subjects through TAFE SA – continuing her training journey with the aim of owning her own business – as well as a qualification in makeup, positioning her to add further value to her clients.

WINNER: Rachael Kelly

Certificate III in Business
Attends Grant High School
Trained by Limestone Coast Training
Employed by Key 2 Sale

In 2021, Rachael is working to complete Year 12 at Grant High School, while simultaneously undertaking a 12-month Certificate III in Business traineeship with Key 2 Sale. Juggling her two roles – school student and administration employee – she is studying SACE Stage Two courses in General Mathematics and Literary Studies, while gaining real estate industry experience in marketing and administration.

With her Certificate III counting towards her SACE completion, Rachael hopes to continue her career at Key 2 Sale after leaving school and undertake further training.

“I plan to gain my agent’s license, explore my passion for architecture in real estate photography, and learn how to enhance social media’s potential in the industry,” says Rachael. “I hope to turn this traineeship into full time employment and one day perhaps own a local real estate business.”

“My goals are both short term and long term, but I know the path my life takes will be filled with immense passion, hard work and determination towards accomplishing a remarkable future.”

As Grant High School Captain, Rachael is actively supporting change though increasing opportunities for students to have a voice and be heard. The vision for a Student-Led Development (SLED) team evolved out of her merit winning SACE research project, a legacy she hopes will demonstrate the power students hold when their leadership skills are encouraged.

“I believe where I am today is a result of my ability to adapt, learn and grow as an individual. Personal determination and perseverance have underpinned my success to date,” she says. “My achievements would not have been possible without my unquestionably driven mindset.”

“The support of family, friends, work colleagues, teachers and the local community strengthens my vision. I believe no one can reach the position I have today without a lot of encouragement and assistance.”

Stuart Rimmington

Finalist: VET Teacher or Trainer of the Year
Employed by TAFE SA

After leaving school early due to illness – and unable to follow a previously planned pathway into university ­– Stuart took his first steps into Vocational Education and Training (VET), with the then 15-year-old moving to regional Western Australia to learn cooking at TAFE.

“Food was a way for me to show love and compassion for others, feeding and nourishing people, and putting my artistic interpretation on a plate,” says Stuart. “Without VET, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I wouldn’t be in a position to see change and to shape the future of our industry.”

Now a lecturer with TAFE SA, Stuart says he proudly promotes VET and the careers and opportunities it opens to participants by introducing the concept of lifelong learning.

“I have been fortunate to win a scholarship to the University of Tasmania, for a Bachelor of Adult and Applied Learning. I was excited to be offered this opportunity, as it was an acknowledgement that TAFE SA valued me,” he says.

“Within industry, it is often hard to receive acknowledgement – a systemic issue I hope to change. Completing this degree will give me more opportunity to develop my knowledge and abilities.”

Stuart’s career aspirations grew through encouragement from his own TAFE lecturers, who supported him when he was ‘naive, unappreciative of what I had the fortune of studying, and not mature enough to know better’.

“My lecturers cared for my progression, supported me when I was nervous, and encouraged me to fix my mistakes – and they did so naturally. This instilled a nature and manner that I have carried through into my own career,” he says.

“If I can impact one student’s future career the way my lecturers shaped mine, I will be able to retire knowing I’ve done something worthy.”

WINNER: Flinders University, BAE Systems Australia and TAFE SA: Diploma of Digital Technologies

Collaborating Partners:

Flinders University
BAE Systems Australia
TAFE SA


The Diploma of Digital Technologies is a collaboration between Flinders University, BAE Systems Australia and TAFE SA. It contributes to furthering sovereign capability along with supporting innovation, continuous naval shipbuilding and ultimately, upskilling the workforce to deliver superior capability to the Australian Defence Force.

The major aims of the project include:

  • Equipping shipyard workers with skills necessary to maximise the benefit of the world class digital shipyard
  • Seeding capability to drive Industry 4.0 enabled world leading practices
  • Building performance and competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the supply chain
  • Growing the pipeline of capability into defence and related industries by upskilling STEM teachers.

The program commenced in 2020 with a focus on shipbuilding workers and evolved in 2021 to upskill SME and teacher groups. From 2022, the intent is to expand the program nationally in a range of defence segments, additional SMEs and other industries.

While the defence industry has been a catalyst for the uptake of industry 4.0 technologies, the outcomes of the collaboration can be replicated in other industries.

The collaboration has the potential to increase the number of students in STEM and job ready industries.

The program has secured funding for women over the next 4 years to progress addressing the current under-representation of women in both engineering and defence. Professionals Australia highlighted the under-representation of women in Defence, a low 14 per cent inclusion.

The Diploma was initially intended to be delivered face-to-face to full-time students, now it is being delivered online part-time with 2 weeks of intensive labs per year, catering well for working participants.

This industry collaboration recognises that large scale projects like the Hunter Class Frigate Program play a catalytic role in accelerating the growth of sovereign advanced manufacturing – propelling the ongoing growth of the Defence industry in Australia, with spill-overs to other sectors.

My Kingdom for a Horse

Founded by owner and qualified chef, Emily Raven in 2015, My Kingdom for a Horse is an award-winning city based licensed café and coffee roastery that employs the equivalent of 12 full-time staff. In mid-2020, the business expanded to a second location, retaining all existing staff, while creating opportunities for new staff – some stranded in Australia due to Covid-19.

Emily’s special area of interest is retaining talent in the hospitality industry with a personalised approach to elevate existing training for team members, especially in the areas of financial control and accountability, negotiation and people management skills and strategy.

Outside the kitchen, Emily mentors coffee specialist Gennie Chee in business management.

Emily believes that a strong foundation in hospitality is one that is respected as a valid career choice and supported by employers with high quality training, mentorship and encouragement.

In 2020 the cafe’s final year apprentice won the Restaurant and Catering Association (RCA) Apprentice of the Year and their first-year apprentice won the SA Training Award School-based apprentice. Despite the toughest trading conditions in living memory, in 2020 the Café won the RCA for best Cafe Dining, Casual Dining and Breakfast. Training baristas and coffee roasters, in 2018 the cafe sponsored barista Alex Whigham who won the ASCA latte art championship for SA. The FOH team regularly compete and place in local latte art smackdowns and barista competitions.

Key to the success of maintaining a strong and committed team are the three components that form My Kingdom for a Horse’s commitment to sustainable and ethical practice across three areas: employment and training, waste management, and community and social engagement, all within the framework of a viable hospitality operation. Within this framework, people-values form the cornerstone of how the business is perceived not only by the customer, but by the people that work in the business.

Happy Haven OSHC Pty Ltd

Happy Haven OSHC Pty Ltd is South Australia's largest Approved Provider of Out of School Hours Care services within Department for Education Schools. We currently operate across 50 school locations, all within South Australia, both metropolitan and regional. We have a presence in the Western, North-East and Northern Suburbs, all the way out to Gawler and the Barossa. We offer high quality Before and After School Care, and fun and exciting Vacation Care programs in the school holidays.

We have a focus on ensuring high quality programming, child engagement and optimal duty of care. Child and educator wellbeing are of high importance to us, as is investing back into the company to enable us to offer further training and development, new technologies and resources, higher staff retention and excellent levels of satisfaction from children, their families, and the schools we partner with.

We are passionate about offering our services to South Australian communities and have a track record of opening services in areas that other companies do not want to work in as they are too small or not deemed profitable enough. We have also contributed donations to The Little Heroes Foundation for a number of years and are about to enter into an expanded partnership with them.

There is an extreme shortage of Qualified Educators within the childcare sector, with recent reports showing 8.4% of all childcare services require a Waiver to operate - which allows them to offer care with less staff holding specific qualifications than the regulations would normally allow. We designed out traineeship programs to see a long term and sustainable solution for our organisation which would meet our goals of high-quality staff delivering fantastic programs to our children, and increased levels of staff retention.

SA Water

SA Water are owned by the South Australian Government to provide trusted water services to more than 1.7 million South Australian customers. We provide safe, clean drinking water, and once this water has been used, we remove the waste and treat it to ensure the best outcomes for your health, and to reduce environmental impact.

We are a major South Australian organisation that employs more than 1,500 people in a range of industries from engineering to microbiology to:

• supply water

• remove sewage from homes and businesses

• treat sewage and wastewater

• recycle some wastewater.

We maintain and operate 10 major metropolitan reservoirs. We also look after the network of pipes, taking water to and from your property.

TAFE SA

TAFE SA’s role as the state’s public training provider is to ensure all South Australian students have access to quality education and skills training across a number of regional, rural, remote and metropolitan locations.

With courses aligned to the needs of the state’s current and future workforce this ensures TAFE SA is responsive, relevant and future focused.

TAFE SA is strengthening its partnerships with industry to work collaboratively in new and different ways.

TAFE SA is focused on increasing access and choice to quality education and training opportunities to deliver a talent pool of job ready graduates for current, new and emerging South Australian industries.

Urrbrae Agricultural High School

Urrbrae Agricultural High School (UAHS) is a comprehensive secondary and senior secondary (Year 8 – 12) High School recognised as a centre of excellence in student learning with a focus on Agriculture, Horticulture, Technology and the Environment. It is designated by the Department for Education as the Special Interest School in Agriculture and Horticulture for the State of South Australia and therefore provides more comprehensive courses in these two subject areas than other secondary schools.

The school is situated just six kilometres from the centre of the Adelaide CBD and sits at the base of the Adelaide Hills within a close urban metropolitan landscape. It is a complex school with extensive land holdings of 45 hectares. This includes defined areas for farming, plant and animal husbandry, environmental land, pasture, horticulture and arboriculture paddocks and an extensive flood mitigation and wetlands education and land management project.

These resources enhance delivery of all subjects to our students. Focus in teaching is to make the connections between theory and practice, with students and as such Urrbrae’s motto ‘Science with Practice’ underpins our entire curriculum.