Darling Downs and South West brings home Queensland Training Awards state honours

Published Saturday, 09 September, 2023 at 11:04 PM

Minister for Employment and Small Business, Minister for Training and Skills Development and Minister for Youth Justice
The Honourable Di Farmer


  • Toowoomba-trained Gabrielle Clift has taken home the Hauenschild Apprentice of the Year and Craig Jones (UQ Gatton) was named the VET Trainer of the Year Award at the 62nd Queensland Training Awards.
  • The state winners were announced at the Queensland Training Awards event at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre tonight (Saturday 9 September 2023).
  • Gabrielle and Craig are among 14 winners who took home state honours and are now in the running for national recognition at the Australian Training Awards in Hobart, Tasmania on Friday 17 November 2023.

The 2023 Queensland Training Awards provides the state’s top prize for outstanding achievements in vocational education and training (VET) statewide.

It recognises apprentices, trainees, vocational students, teachers and trainers as well as training providers and employers.

Qualified light vehicle mechanic Gabrielle Clift was awarded the Harry Hauenschild Apprentice of the Year title for completing an apprenticeship with Highfields Mechanical.

Her love for cars, inherited from her dad, drove her to win several awards during her apprenticeship and become a mentor for other young women in the male dominated industry. Gabrielle’s passion for the industry continues, after completing some work experience with Triple Eight Race Engineering, she was asked to join the crew at the Bathurst 1000 and is now working for Triple Eight full-time.  

Craig Jones, who teaches at the University of Queensland’s Gatton campus, was named VET Teacher or Trainer of the Year for revolutionising the Certificate IV in Farriery for apprentices at UQ Skills.

With more than 35 years experience of shoeing horses, he filmed himself performing a series of basic to advanced farriery skills into structured videos and presentations to help modernise and digitise the traditional farriery training materials.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer:

“The Queensland Training Awards highlight our top achievers in training and showcase the power of skills.

“It is great to see Darling Downs and South West take out two awards this year and I hope this will inspire more local people to pursue their own goals through vocational education and training.”

“The Palaszczuk Government is ensuring all Queenslanders have opportunities to grow their skills with relevant training and get a great job and I’m pleased to see so many great examples of this tonight.

“Being a regional winner is already an amazing achievement but taking home a state title is an incredible feat.

“These Awards highlight how the Palaszczuk Government continues to assist to strengthen our local communities – providing great training and keeping jobs local."


Photos of the winners can be found in the link below:


Explainer/fast fact and or further information:

The state winners were announced at the Queensland Training Awards State Final Gala Presentation dinner at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Brisbane on Saturday 9 September 2023.

This year state-wide nominations increased by more than 40 per cent from last year with over 210 regional finalists selected from more than 800 nominations.

The Queensland Government invests more than $1.2 billion annually in training and skills and that investment is a driving force behind the Good people. Good jobs: Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022-2032.

Full list of statewide winners:

Individual award categories

Harry Hauenschild Apprentice of the Year – Gabrielle Clift, Darling Downs South West (Toowoomba)

Bob Marshman Trainee of the Year – Charlotte Ross, South East (Gold Coast)

Vocational Student of the Year – Jessica Addo, Tropical North Queensland (Cairns)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year – Shaniqua Burke, Tropical North Queensland (Napranum)

School-based Apprentice or Trainee of the Year – Kyezaya Namai-Sabatino, Tropical North Queensland  (Western Cape College, Weipa)

Equity Student of the Year – Dean Clark, South East (Gold Coast)

VET Teacher or Trainer of the Year – Craig Jones, UQ Skills (Gatton), Darling Downs South West

Organisation award categories

Community Training Initiative of the Year – Everything Suarve Inc, South East (Logan)

Large Employer of the Year – White’s IGA, North Coast (Sunshine Coast)

Medium Employer of the Year – All Purpose Transport, South East (Berrinba)

Small Employer of the Year – McCarthy Panel Works Pty Ltd, Central Queensland (North Mackay)

State direct entry

Large Training Provider of the Year – TAFE Queensland (Queensland)

Small Training Provider of the Year – Demi International (Queensland)

Premier’s Industry Collaboration Award – Programmed Training Services (Gladstone)



Media contact:  Gary Shipway – 0458 090 906