Tamworth has shone at a state awards event, with current or former residents claiming three of the 13 titles at the NSW Training Awards last night.
Christian Fritze, Obieco Industries and Sarah Ford will now represent the state in their categories at the national awards in November.
They were named, respectively, the vocational student, medium employer and VET teacher/trainer of the year at the Sydney Town Hall awards event.
Glen Artney Truck Repairs was also a finalist in the medium employer of the year section.
Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the winners were proof of the great personal and career benefits vocational education and training (VET) could bring.
Mr Fritze said it was "an amazing night; lots of energy, lots of excitement".
He has completed a certificate III in barbering while being trained by Joblink Plus and working at 2340 Barber Shop - and said he was passionate about the industry.
"I love it and think it's great and cannot wait for what is next," he said.
Mr Fritze is blind in one eye, and has 50 per cent vision loss in the other, after an accident.
He said it was a "pretty surreal and humbling experience ... to be known as that man" who had overcome such challenges to achieve at this level.
He said he spent hours working on techniques at home "until it's perfect ... that constant pursuit of 'better'".
Mr Fritze said he aimed to become an educator to young people in the industry, "giving them a skillset that is so paramount to society [and] empowering them to go out and chase their own dreams".
Obieco Industries' Fiona Sweeney said of the wins: "As a region, how bloody good is that?"
"It's a massive achievement all 'round," she said.
"It's a good-news story and, as a region, I think we all need a few of those at the moment."
Mrs Sweeney said it was great to be recognised after having employed apprentices "for a long time".
"We are doing good things and to be rewarded for that as a business - especially off the back off the [Tamworth] excellence in business award - is just massive.
"The competition was incredible and without the continued support of Marise Holloway from NSW State Training Services and Raelene Hoy from Apprenticeship Support Australia ... this would not have happened."
She said she'd been "up till all hours texting back and forward" with managing director Anthony Steel, who is away on business, and the whole team was "thrilled" with the win.
Former Tamworth teacher Sarah Ford said she loved "everything to do with teaching".
"I know it was what I was meant to do with life: helping kids enjoy some aspect of school," she said.
Although Mrs Ford has qualifications to teach several VET subjects, she said "agriculture, in particular, is a big one for me".
"The kids love what we get to do ... [They] are interested, particularly when it's outside and not sitting still in a classroom.
"Every single day with me can be a totally different experience."
Now based in Lismore, Mrs Ford still comes to Tamworth for her own training through the registered training organisation Public Schools NSW, Tamworth.