MORE than 100 resources sector industry representatives and community members applauded 30 students from across the Hunter in graduating the 2019 TAFE NSW Muswellbrook Mining Skills Program at Muswellbrook on Thursday night.
The comprehensive six-month program complements the course delivery of qualifications the youngsters are studying at TAFE NSW - in the areas of either machining, electrical, metal fabrication or automotive.
All first-year apprentices, the pupils are working throughout their apprenticeship with a resources company based in the Hunter.
Through the program they learn the fundamentals of each trade area and receive an overall education on mining, including several visits to mining and heavy industry environments.
Three students were recognised on the night with awards:
* Highest Achiever (Dux) - Angie Simpson, Singleton, BHP apprentice
* Outstanding Achievement - Ben Ferrier, Muswellbrook, BHP apprentice
* Outstanding Achievement - Antonia Moncrieff, Stockton, Port Waratah Coal Services apprentice
TAFE NSW regional general manager Susie George said the ceremony recognised everyone's achievements.
"All 31 of our mining program students have excelled in their efforts to gain a strong understanding of the resources sector and the role they will play within it," she explained.
"It is wonderful to be able to celebrate with them tonight among their families, friends and industry representatives who have welcomed them into the fold.
"I am sure each student is excited to now be able to spend much more time learning in their workplace, and to concentrate solely on their apprenticeship.
"They will do this while continuing their studies at TAFE NSW."
Award-winner Ben Ferrier is studying a Certificate III in Mobile Plant Technology at TAFE NSW Kurri Kurri.
He said the program had enabled him to pursue his career goals.
"I worked in the WA mining industry as a trades assistant and operator," he added.
"I decided that instead of being someone's assistant I wanted to gain in-depth knowledge and take control of my career.
"Through this program I've learned a lot of new skills that I know will benefit me.
"It provides a good taster of each of the key trade areas, which you should absorb because there's often a crossover into your own field.
"Even at my age - at 31, I'm the oldest in the group - I'm a bit gobsmacked at what I've learned.
"I often drive home from class really pleased about learning something I didn't think I would ever get to learn.
"I can honestly say I have come away from the TAFE NSW Muswellbrook Mining Skills Program with a lot more knowledge and a greater understanding of how things work in the industry.
"Now I can't wait to get onsite and meet some co-workers... get involved.
"It's been an intense six months."
Australia's largest training provider, TAFE NSW, offers more than 1200 courses, from certificates to degrees.
Many can be studied online via TAFE Digital, when and where it suits. Visit www.tafensw.com.au or phone 131 601.