TWO TOP TRAINEES: Karsha Dewis and Kyla-Rae Saltner-Johnston at the DDSW Regional Training Awards in Gatton.
TWO TOP TRAINEES: Karsha Dewis and Kyla-Rae Saltner-Johnston at the DDSW Regional Training Awards in Gatton. Contributed

Awards recognise our terrific regional training

WHEN it comes to training, the Western Downs seems to have the perfect storm of top-notch employers and enthusiastic trainees.

That much was evident at the regional finals of the Queensland Training Awards last month, when our nominees took out a number of gongs and set their sights on the state finals coming up in September.

With Western Downs Regional Council taking out Large Employer of the Year, Chinchilla's ENZED Surat Basin nabbing Small Employer of the Year, Chinchilla-based Karsha Dewis winning the Bob Marshman Trainee of the Year and Dalby's Kyla-Rae Saltner-Johnston named the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year, it was by all accounts a busy night.

For Miss Dewis, to win was, in her words, a massive achievement.

"It was such an amazing feeling, I honestly don't have words for it,” she said.

"It was a really humbling moment and I just had a sense of pride for not only myself but for everyone who's worked so hard with me to get me this far.”

Mayor Paul McVeigh was delighted with the result.

"I truly believe that council's traineeship and apprenticeship opportunities really make a difference to local lives in our community, through giving employment and education opportunities to those who may not necessarily go on to further education,” Cr McVeigh said.

"It is great to see that our trainees have made the most out of their opportunities and receiving these awards is an acknowledgement of this and a credit to both Karsha and Kyla-Rae, who have now obtained permanent employment with WDRC.”

For ENZED Surat Basin managing director Shannon McDermott, taking out Small Employer of the Year was a wonderful surprise.

"You enter these things and there's plenty of other companies and businesses that do and you never really expect to win,” MrMcDermott said.

"You're always hopeful but it was a pleasant surprise and something we're very proud of achieving and it's a bit of a reflection of all the hard work of the team.”

It's certainly well deserved, with the business dedicated to up-skilling numerous staff throughout the year.

Mr McDermott said such training included putting two "young fellows” through a Certificate II in Engineering, up-skilling two more tradesmen to a Certificate IV in Fluid Power and putting one staff member through a fully CASA-certified drone course.

For Mr McDermott, it all comes back to constant improvement.

"I've always had that philosophy with the business that we can always get better at what we do and one thing we really like to focus on is keeping staff as long as we can,” Mr McDermott said.

"I think most people appreciate training opportunities and self-improvement, it's pretty much most people's good nature that they want to learn and improve themselves and when you provide those opportunities people tend to enjoy their place of employment a lot more, so it's a big driver for us, for sure.”


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