Engineering company RCR Tomlinson's increased focus on its apprenticeships program has been rewarded after Western Australian-based third-year apprentice Sean Coffey was named tradesperson of the year for 2007.
The 19-year-old won the top award at a ceremony in Sydney last week at the Welding Technology Institute of Australia annual awards, a key event in the National Manufacturing Week activities.
It is the first time RCR, headquartered in Perth, has won a WTIA award, and apprentice development manager Jamie Sharpe said the win was a surprise given the company did not nominate Mr Coffey for the awards.
"RCR Tomlinson has won previous appenticeship awards but this is the first time we've won a WTIA award," Mr Sharpe said.
Mr Coffey's winning entry was a report based on the compressor brake car system used on rail lines in the iron ore industry in the state's north.
As part of his award, Mr Coffey will embark later this month on a two-week study trip to Germany and Austria.
RCR currently has up to 60 apprentices working at its operations in WA, a 25 per cent increase over the past 12 months. Mr Sharpe said the increase was part of the company's bid to tacke the current skills shortage.
"RCR has made a determined effort to increase the development of tradespersons for the industry, with apprentice numbers expected to increase greatly over the coming months," he said.
"As an organisation we are committed to apprentices and we feel Sean's award is a further endorsement of this commitment."
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