Celebrating TAFE excellence

The Western Australian Training Awards (WATA) is the State’s premier awards program recognising excellence in vocational education and training (VET) and the outstanding achievements of our VET students, apprentices and trainees, practitioners and training providers, organisations and employers. 

  • This year, winners were recognised across five individual categories: WA Apprentice of the Year; WA School-based Apprentice of the Year; WA Trainee of the Year; WA Vocational Student of the Year; and WA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the Year.  
  • Two of the five winners were from North Metropolitan TAFE (NMTAFE) - Cheyne Pearce won WA Trainee of the Year 2020 and Trent Caldwell won WA Vocational Student of the Year 2020.
  • Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery MLC announced the winners at an intimate event at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre last Monday.  

Cheyne chose to study a Certificate IV in Horticulture at NMTAFE in order to fulfil his passion to make a positive difference to our environment. His hard work and resolve eventually paid off with the offer of a dream job as a trainee at Kings Park and Botanic Gardens. 

Cheyne started his career as an air conditioning and refrigeration technician, but found increasingly that he wanted to pursue his passion for the environment. This passion was the catalyst for a career change. Through hard work and determination, he successfully completed a Certificate II in Horticulture and Conservation Land Management. He then went on to study the Certificate IV and with it, landed a position as a trainee at Kings Park and Botanic Gardens. 

Cheyne says working at King’s Park was like ‘living the horticultural dream - with access to some of the brightest and best minds in the field.’ 


With a background in community services, advertising and art, Trent wanted to blend the skills learned from these industries and embark on a journey to land his long-held ambition of a role in marketing. After successfully completing a Diploma of Marketing and Communication at NMTAFE, Trent has landed his dream role as a Social Media Manager. He manages the website, social media accounts and paid advertising campaigns for Near Me Real Estate. 

Following a near-fatal accident which left him in a coma, Trent has various learning hindrances. Although he struggled with financial and health problems during his studies, with the assistance from his lecturers, he completed the Diploma with flying colours. After his successful past 18 months, Trent advocates one simple message - study with TAFE! 

“The stories from this year’s WA Training Awards highlight that the benefit of a VET pathway is far greater than just gaining a qualification." the Minister said. “With VET playing a vital role in rebuilding of Western Australia’s economy, the overall community benefit is significant and should be celebrated. I congratulate this year’s winners for their efforts and contributions. They are fine ambassadors for Western Australia’s training system." 

Winners from this year’s awards, who succeeded despite highly unusual circumstances and changes to workplaces and training delivery, received $3,000. The winners will now be put forward to compete against the nation’s best at the Australian Training Awards which will be a virtual celebration on 20 November 2020. 

Congratulations to both Cheyne and Trent and we wish them both the best for the Australian Training Awards next month.