THREE of the region's brightest young apprentices have been honoured with wins at the New England Regional Training Awards last week.
Georgia Foley took out Apprentice of the Year, closely followed by mechanical engineering apprentice Kih McDonald, who claimed a highly commended in the same category.
Electrical apprentice Tyler Mills was named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student of the Year.
All three rising stars are from the Gunnedah shire and completed their apprenticeships with HCTV North West in Tamworth and have joined Whitehaven Coal at its Maules Creek and Narrabri sites.
HVTC's chief executive officer Sharon Smith said Mills and Foley would now go on to interviews for the NSW Training Awards.
"It's nice to hear some good news in the New England after months of uncertainty for young workers as a result of COVID-19," Ms Smith said.
"On behalf of HVTC, I'd like to congratulate Tyler, Georgia and Kih on their award wins last week.
"They should be incredibly proud of their achievements, as we are."
Ms Smith said the trio's awards were also a reward for effort for Whitehaven Coal.
"It is great to see Whitehaven's ongoing commitment to their Apprentice program acknowledged with these award wins," she said.
"The New England region has faced some difficult times of late with harsh drought conditions and now COVID-19.
"The mining sector is a huge contributor to the New England region, with Whitehaven Coal currently hosting 34 HVTC apprentices across three operations; Whitehaven Coal, Narrabri Coal Operations and Maules Creek Coal.
"Since completing their apprenticeships, Georgia, Tyler and Kih have all secured permanent employment either with Whitehaven Coal directly or via a contractor, allowing them to continue building their careers in the mining sector.
"Their apprenticeship provided a foot in the door to the mining sector and are great examples of how apprenticeships can provide a pathway to future employment."
The NSW Training Awards is slated to be held in Sydney in October.