Natasha Farr from Geraldton named WA Vocational Student of the Year

Geraldton MLA Ian Blayney has congratulated a Geraldton student and the Institute at which she studies for scoring top honours at the 2013 WA Training Awards.

Natasha Farr, from Geraldton, was named WA Vocational Student of the Year while the Durack Institute of Technology took out the category of best WA Training Initiative.

Mr Blayney said Natasha and Durack Institute showed the depth of talent available in Geraldton and the Midwest region coupled with finalists Benjamin Baytala (WA Apprentice of the Year) and Blacktop Materials Engineering (WA Small Business of the Year).

“It is a great achievement by Natasha against stiff opposition, as is the case for Durack Institute,” Mr Blayney said.

“All the finalists and winners are fantastic examples of what can be achieved by getting involved in WA’s training sector.

“They are to be congratulated for their hard work and diligence in the State’s training and vocational education sector.”

This year’s group of 195 outstanding high achiever entries were recognised across 14 individual and organisation categories at the awards ceremony at which more than $100,000 in cash and prizes were awarded.

“Natasha is completing a trilogy of qualifications at Durack Institute with the aim of pursuing a career in the field of science,” Mr Blayney said.

“She has already taken a step towards this goal, gaining employment with Durack as a Laboratory Technician, which provides her with practical, hands-on knowledge.

“Her role includes managing the laboratory, testing and reporting on all samples, and training two new employees.”

Mr Blayney said Natasha took a hands-on role in her studies and was quick to help other students at Durack.

“Natasha’s role also requires her to conduct tours and provide information to visitors, interact with staff and students, and build a rapport with the community and industry partners,” he said.

“As a student, Natasha is happy to assist fellow students in informal tutorials and has mentored peers studying lower level certificates, for which she has received positive feedback from both staff and her students.”

Mr Blayney said the Durack Institute of Technology was commended for its close relationship with partner organisations in the maritime industry.

“Working closely with industry partners, Durack Institute offers the Aboriginal Maritime Program – a 10-week course that is specifically tailored to meet the needs of Aboriginal people,” he said.

“It prepares them for employment in the maritime industry, with a focus on the offshore oil and gas sector, while also preparing participants for work in land-based industries, such as local government, mining and construction.

“The Aboriginal Maritime Program is multi-faceted and includes life skills training, mentoring and employer support, as well as marine training, and literacy and numeracy tuition.”

Mr Blayney said it was testament to the exceptional efforts of local apprentices, trainees and vocational students as well as the commitment of trainers, training organisations and employers contributing to a successful training system in Geraldton, to gain four of the 45 State finalists from our city.

He said Benjamin Baytala started a carpentry apprenticeship at the age of 15 with the specific aim of becoming a registered builder.

“About 15 years later, he gained a second qualification as a bricklayer and is now back at ‘school’ to study for his Diploma in Building and Construction through Durack Institute of Technology,” Mr Blayney said.

“Benjamin’s aim is to become an ‘old school’ builder who is able to complete many of the practical elements of building himself. He has also started his own business and aims to employ a bricklaying apprentice to pass on his skills and knowledge.”

Mr Blayney said Blacktop Materials Engineering (BME) is a materials testing laboratory which has met the challenge of employing qualified and experienced staff head-on.

“Operating in a regional area has prompted BME to place greater emphasis on training and as such, it has trained about 80 per cent of its current workforce, who previously had no experience in the materials testing industry.

“In association with LabTech Training, which was last year’s Australian Small Training Provider of the Year, technicians have the chance to achieve a Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques, Diploma of Laboratory Technology, and Advanced Diploma of Laboratory Operations qualifications.”

Mr Blayney said each finalist is an outstanding example of the high quality of Geraldton’s growing status as a major contributor to the State’s training sector.

 

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Jason Smith

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