The North Coast & Mid North Coast Regional Training Awards were held on Friday 9 June 2023 in Coffs Harbour where Newman College’s Laicy Costingan was announced as the winner of the VET in School Student of the Year North Coast & Mid North Coast Region. Laicy will now progress to the State Finals. The state phase will evaluate the regional winners and look for character values and virtues that will contribute to the qualities required to become an individual Ambassador.

The NSW Training Awards are conducted annually by Training Services NSW within the NSW Department of Education to recognise outstanding achievement in the vocational education and training sector. One of the aims of the program is to discover Vocational Education and Training  (VET) Ambassadors. During the regional phase applicants that are outstanding in their industry are shortlisted and interviewed.

In the lead-up to these awards, Laicy was asked to comment on her VET training, and why she chose this pathway. Here is what Laicy had to say:

It was mostly because of my passion for working with my hands that I chose to pursue a career in the Construction Industry.  I find the feeling of satisfaction I feel when I see the finished product empowering and rewarding.

“From Years 7-10 in high school, I chose timber as one of my subjects which helped me develop some foundational carpentry skills. Then I enrolled at Newman Senior Technical College and chose Construction as one of my HSC subjects. Newman provides an amazing opportunity for all students of all abilities and delivers training in a variety of construction trades within their VET Construction course including concreting, bricklaying, plastering and carpentry.  Learning the theory and practical knowledge in class combined with the opportunity to gain work experience builds your confidence when transitioning into the workforce.

I am currently working at Port Macquarie Shipways for workplacement and was previously at Adenbrook Homes and Port Macquarie Decking. Through workplacement, I am mentored by experienced professionals and learning new skills. During one block week of workplacement we completed two decks.  Learning this way was so effective in expanding my knowledge with hands-on work experience. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone at times but has helped me produce good quality work in, and outside of, school.

I am keen to learn as much as while at Newman College. Applying the skills and knowledge I have learned in the classroom to real-world situations helps you learn quickly and is very rewarding. I’m confident this experience will help me grow personally and professionally and contribute to the industry as a skilled and passionate worker.

It is a privilege to access quality vocational education such as Newman College and the opportunities to explore and develop skills in my chosen field of Construction while still completing my HSC. The quality of training provided in class, in the workshops and via the Workplace Learning Program has enabled me to specialise in a field of work and start on my career path before I even leave school.

As for the opportunity of being a VET ambassador?  I am very proud to represent my College. Now, understanding the benefits of VET style of learning, I am hugely supportive of this pathway. It’s a great way to learn. I hope that more young people have the opportunity to access quality vocational education and training.

Laicy Costigan – 2023 Winner of the VET in School Student of the Year North Coast & Mid North Coast Region