Footy star named State’s Apprentice of the Year

Footy star named State’s Apprentice of the Year

Former HVTC apprentice turned professional NRLW player, Rachael Pearson, has been named the Women in Trades Apprentice of the Year in the Apprentice Employment Network (NSW & ACT) Group Training Awards.

Rachael received her award at a special presentation on 23 October after she was unable to attend the official award ceremony in Sydney on Friday 13 October.

The Awards celebrate the best of the best among the 6,000 apprentices and trainees currently employed in the state’s group training network.

In 2020, Rachael commenced an Engineering Mechanical Apprenticeship with HVTC and hosted to South32, working at the Appin underground mine.

From day one Rachael excelled in her trade, winning the AJS (Stan) Gilroy Memorial prize in her first year for first place in Stage 1 Fitting and Machining at Wollongong TAFE.

She was also named HVTC’s Apprentice of the Month in 2022, was a finalist for the 2022 Women in Mining Excellence Awards and successfully achieved her Certificate III Engineering Mechanical trade qualification this year through competency-based completion.

Beyond the mine site, Racheal has also seen huge success on the footy field. In 2022 she debuted with the St George Dragons NRLW team, juggling training and game commitments with her apprenticeship role and studies. In the same year she was selected for the NSW Women’s State of Origin team.

Rachael’s success both on and off the field led to her becoming an NRL VET Ambassador and NSW Mining Ambassador, speaking to aspiring NRL players and tradespeople at various events about the benefits of vocational education and training (VET) pathways and careers in mining.

“As an ambassador, I have encouraged other people to enter the apprenticeship pathway. It is very important for elite sports people to have a career to pursue once their sporting career is complete,” she said.

“I have also strived to be a positive role model for women in trades and demonstrate you can achieve your goals if you are dedicated and committed, and passionate about your chosen career path.”

The halfback currently co-captains the NRLW Parramatta Eels in a three-year deal with the Club and is grateful to have a trade to return to post-football.

“The VET pathway is in many ways better than a university qualification as you are earning a weekly wage whilst gaining a nationally recognised qualification. I will always have my trade, and this will ensure I am always employable and can continue to take on further study and upgrade my qualifications.”

Rachael was one of six HVTC finalists in the running for an award this year.

HVTC Group CEO, Sharon Smith congratulated Rachael on a well-deserved win.

“While Rachael was sadly unable to attend the award ceremony, HVTC Workforce Solutions Specialist (WSS) Karen was honoured to accept the award on her behalf,” Sharon said.

“Karen was Rachael’s mentor for the duration of her apprenticeship, so if anyone knows how hard Rachael has worked the last three and a half years, it’s Karen!

“Every week Rachael juggled several commitments, getting up at the crack of dawn to travel to work, attending training sessions in the afternoon and playing matches all the while keeping on  track with her studies.

“She demonstrated an unwavering commitment to both her apprenticeship and NRLW careers,  proving that you can achieve anything you set out to as long as you are passionate and dedicated.  Well done Rachael – you have a bright future ahead of you.”

IMAGE | Rachael (centre) is pictured with Jason Quirk from South32 and HVTC Workforce Solutions Specialist Karen Eveleigh.

Zeal Futures

Zeal Futures is dedicated to empowering individuals and businesses to thrive through vocational education and training. With a focus on innovation, quality, and personalised support, we provide a range of education, training, and employment services to help individuals reach their full potential. 

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