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TAFE Queensland named 2021 PIEoneer of the year

TAFE Queensland has been named the 2021 PIEoneer of the Year at the prestigious PIEoneer Awards for the tremendous training outcomes achieved through implementing the Australian Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) project, on behalf of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

As the Registered Training Organisation, TAFE Queensland has delivered Australian vocational qualifications aligned to employment opportunities in demand for Pacific Island citizens.

First held in 2017, The PIEoneer Awards are now in their fifth year and recognise both individuals and organisations who are uplifting professional standards, evolving their engagement, or redefining the international student experience.

TAFE Queensland International General Manager Denise O’Brien said the award is recognition of the vital training and support that TAFE Queensland, through APTC, provides in contributing to a more skilled, inclusive and productive workforce that enhances Pacific prosperity.

“Since the APTC was established in 2007, around 17,000 Pacific women and men across 14 Pacific Island countries have completed Australian qualifications and skills sets from certificate II to diploma level in various vocational areas — truly an enormous achievement,” Ms O’Brien said.

“This award recognises the tremendous commitment of our experienced educators and dedicated support services teams along with their innovation in not only leading the international education sector during 2020, but most importantly in supporting our Pacific Island students throughout the global challenges of COVID-19."

“During the pandemic we successfully adapted to the ongoing operational and logistical challenges of working across so many diverse Pacific countries by finding new and innovative ways to train our students."

“Notably, to mitigate issues of both restricted face-to-face access to educators and the risks of unreliable internet connectivity to access online learning, we engaged local actors and performers to present content and used a local radio station to broadcast training to students in remote and maritime islands,” she said.

Ms O’Brien said providing access to quality training in support of regional economic growth is the key focus of the APTC project and it represents a unique approach by placing technical and vocational education and training at the heart of development and reform in the Pacific.

“This is a working example of how partnerships and collaboration are the key to providing sustainable access to training for financially disadvantaged and geographically remote communities,” Ms O’Brien said.

“I am proud to say that our students graduate with strong technical skills along with the knowledge and soft skills they need to not only secure employment, but also positively contribute to the social and cultural prosperity of their nation."

“Our work in the region is vital and this award is a fitting acknowledgement of all of the wonderful work everyone is doing in helping Pacific Island citizens gain the skills they need to change their lives and build lifelong careers,” she said.

Judged by a panel of 43 international education experts, 21 winners spanning seven countries were awarded top gongs in 19 categories.

The winners were announced at a glamorous hybrid event held at London’s historic Guildhall on 3 September 2021. The event included over 200 virtual attendees who joined 360 education professionals at the live event in London.