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Luka engineers a bright future thanks to TAFE NSW


Luka engineers a bright future thanks to TAFE NSW

Automotive and Engineering Trades workers are among the most in-demand across Australia, according to the 2021 Skills Priority List, with some of the strongest future demand for Mechanical Engineering jobs.

TAFE NSW is delivering the training that is helping to build a strong pipeline of skilled workers to meet the forecast industry growth of 10% by 2026, like TAFE NSW Orange graduate, Luka Smith.

Luka, 17, recently won the 2023 NSW Training Awards School Based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year and will step out of school into full-time work once he completes his HSC at the end of the year.

Luka completed his school-based traineeship with Skillset, in conjunction with host employer, Hort Enterprises, and TAFE NSW, which has gained him an industry-recognised national qualification that will be used as credit towards his HSC.

He credits the hands-on experience he received at TAFE NSW studying a Certificate II in Engineering with sparking his passion for going further in the industry.

“I enjoyed learning about the finer technical details from my TAFE NSW teachers and learning from the real-world experience of my teachers and peers. The practical demonstrations and having the chance to learn hands-on and ask questions in real-time instead of just learning out of a book was what I loved.”

Jane McWilliam is the General Manager of Skillset Limited, who nominated Luka for his NSW Training Award, and she says Luka’s dedication to learning set him apart.

“Luka success this award reflects his dedication and hard work. His commitment to continuous learning and skill development in Engineering Fabrication has set him apart as an exceptional trainee with the confidence to make valuable contributions to the workplace and community,” Ms McWilliam said.

Luka said while there were some challenges during his study, he said TAFE NSW is a great option for other young people.

“It was hard sometimes balancing work, study, friends, and schoolwork, but I think learning how to do this is another skill I’ve learned that will help me in my career. My TAFE NSW teachers were so supportive in helping me get through the course, and the team at Hort Enterprises were the same.

“There are so many school-based traineeship options with TAFE NSW, and taking this path gives you the skills to go out and get a job. I haven’t even finished school yet, and I’m already so much closer to achieving my Certificate III. My advice to other students is to talk to your careers advisor at school and ask about options for learning at TAFE NSW,” he said.

With HSC exams just around the corner, Luka said he’s excited for his future.

“I really enjoy mentoring the other trainees at work – it’s something that comes naturally to me. My long-term career goal is to work as a supervisor, move into management, and eventually run my own business.

“But for now, I’m focusing on work and studying over the next few months and getting through my exams. After that I’m planning on going full-time with Hort Enterprises to continue my apprenticeship… and hopefully some travelling,” Luka said.

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756.