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Two outstanding TAFE NSW students from the Hunter have been shortlisted alongside the best of their vocational education and training peers after a panel of expert judges narrowed down the field to name the finalists for the 2017 NSW Training Awards.
Jackson Harvey, 18 from Belmont North, is a finalist for the NSW School Based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year, while 23-year-old Reece Arday is a finalist for the NSW Trainee of the Year.
Mr Harvey is currently completing a School Based Traineeship with Hunter New England Health (HNE Health) as part of his Higher School Certificate (HSC) studies at Belmont High. 
The two-year program, a partnership between TAFE NSW and HNE Health, enables trainees to complete industry-recognised Certificate III in Health Services Assistance qualifications as part of their year 11 and 12 studies whilst working one day per week in the healthcare industry.
HNE Health Nurse Manager Martin Losurdo said the program was designed to support young people such as Jackson in their pursuit of a career in health. 
“TAFE NSW has provided HNE Health with consistently high-quality training over many years,” Mr Losurdo said. 
“The teaching experience for students has always been of an extremely high standard and this continues with our Nursing School Based Trainees.
“Whilst working at Belmont Hospital, Jackson showed himself to be extremely motivated and quick to learn. He developed excellent rapport with the patients and their families and relates very well to fellow nursing staff. HNE Health recognises Jackson as a future nursing leader and supports him in his future study endeavours.”
Mr Harvey’s first inkling of a future career in nursing came during the last years of his grandfather’s life. 
“All of the nurses that looked after my grandfather were amazing,” Mr Harvey said. 
“You could tell they were really passionate about caring for others and genuinely loved their work.” 
After visiting his school careers counsellor, Mr Harvey enrolled in the two-year school-based apprenticeship with HNE Health and has been working one day a week in Belmont Hospital’s sub-acute ward.
Mr Harvey said he loved the practical hands-on learning of the School Based Traineeship program.
“You can only learn so much in the classroom on a whiteboard, so being able to get external education and training at TAFE NSW and learning on the job from really experienced nursing staff is invaluable,” he said. 
“Each week at Belmont Hospital I’m having the time of my life. I will come out with a qualification at the end of the traineeship and I get paid for my work at the hospital. It’s amazing.”
My Harvey will complete his traineeship and HSC at Belmont High later this year and plans to continue his studies at TAFE NSW with a Diploma of Nursing.
“I already have a foot in the door to the industry and that’s a great feeling,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Arday from Macquarie Hills has also been named one of three finalists from across the state for the 2017 NSW Trainee of the Year Award. 
Mr Arday studied a business administration traineeship with Port Stephens Council ​and completed a Certificate IV in Business at TAFE NSW Maitland. Upon completing his traineeship he was offered a fulltime role in the council’s IT department as an Information and Communications Technology systems administrator.
The winners of the 2017 NSW Training Awards will be announced in Sydney on Thursday 7 September.