SOUTH West TAFE has taken out honours as the state's best large training provider at the peak Victorian awards for the sector.
The Victorian Training Awards put South West TAFE at the top of the state's 16 large training providers and it is now among three finalists for a national title.
South West TAFE chief executive Mark Fidge said he was proud of the achievement, which Victorian Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney announced on Tuesday morning.
"It's a real honour for our region," he said. "To be a finalist nationally demonstrates the amazing innovative practices and commitment of our staff to fulfil our important role in the community."
The award was based on results in 2019, when Mr Fidge said the TAFE recorded high student and staff satisfaction.
"Our student satisfaction results were number one in the state," he said.
"And over the last couple of years our staff satisfaction results have been top two in the state."
More than 100 new staff joined the training provider in 2019 and 5000 students enrolled following the state government's introduction of free TAFE courses.
"Free TAFE was an enormous challenge to get it up and going, but we had amazing results last year, and that's continued into 2021," Mr Fidge said.
"I couldn't be prouder of what those students have achieved but also what the teachers do to get them those positive outcomes. And we have amazing support staff to help the organisation too."
He said a crowd of about 1000 would usually attend a Melbourne awards ceremony for Tuesday's accolade but coronavirus restrictions meant staff watched the awards virtually instead.
"We are in small gatherings, either on campus or watching it from home," Mr Fidge said.
"I hope we can celebrate it with all the staff in the not-so-distant future, because at the end of the day it is their award."
He said the award reflected a commitment of staff to forge strong connections with industry, community and students and respond to their needs.
South West TAFE won the Victorian Large Training Provider of the Year title about 10 years ago but this is its first time as a finalist for the national award.
The national training provider winner will be announced on November 20.
Apprentice plumber Shona McGuigan, who completed her Certificate III in Plumbing at South West TAFE, is also vying for the Victorian Apprentice of the Year title, to be announced on Thursday.
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