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Published: 5 July, 2013


Recognition: Trainee of the Year Renee Pilkington (centre) is presented with her award by Vocational Training Committee Illawarra members (from left) Tony Keir, Tom and Grace Follino-Gallo, and John Murray.

The Vocational Training Committee Illawarra and South East NSW has recognised a naval seaman and a school support officer as its top Illawarra Apprentice and Trainee of the Year for 2013.

Naval seaman Justin Macey and The Illawarra Grammar School support officer Renae Pilkington won recognition for their hard work in completing the qualification and work components of their training.

Mr Macey was named 2013 Apprentice of the Year.

He is a mature apprentice from Nowra who worked in the Royal Australian Navy while an apprentice aircraft maintenance engineer.

Mr Macey said it was a challenge juggling family life with working at sea for long periods and studying for his apprenticeship while mentoring other apprentices.

He also acknowledged the support of his family and workmates.

Mr Macey's supervisors said he was extremely skilful and motivated, and a positive influence on other employees he came into contact with.

He impressed the interview panel with his enthusiasm for his industry and his ability to maintain a balance between his work, studies and family life.

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After Ms Pilkington was named Trainee of the Year, she said her traineeship had "opened up a whole new universe".

"This has not only been a great opportunity for me but also for my school," she said.

Ms Pilkington also spoke about her students with disabilities.

"They give me more back than I could ever put into one day," she said.

Ms Pilkington had previously worked as a chef. She saw the traineeship as a lifestyle change and an opportunity to do something new.

She said she still aimed to learn something every day at work.

She loved seeing her students achieve success in their work and smile.

Ms Pilkington now has her sights on a Certificate IV and a teaching degree.

Other winners included Georgia Kollaras, named Vocational Student of the Year; Imagen Saxon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year; Stephanie Muddle, VET in Schools Student of the Year; and Nicole Reay, VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year.

The regional winners now progress to the state awards in September for the chance to represent the region at the national awards in November.

Gold sponsors WGE Group, of Unanderra, were so impressed with the awards they decided to give three of the winners extra prizes in the hope that might encourage other employers and sponsors to increase their support for the annual event.

The Vocational Training Committee's membership in the region includes representatives from industry, training organisations, Australian Apprenticeships Centres and state training services.