Mr Wright has been a keen advocate and leader in Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector for many decades, playing an active role in introducing major improvements and changes to the training system at both the national and state levels.

As State Director of the Metal Trades Industry Association of Australia’s New South Wales and Queensland branches, he led many successful international technology and trade missions. As a member of the former NSW VET Advisory Board, he assisted in driving quality assurance for all students studying VET in NSW, leading to the emergence of Commonwealth policies for regulating international education and improving the education experience for international students studying in Australia.

One of Mr Wright’s most notable contributions to VET has been as an architect of the highly successful group training model. He was a founding member of the Hunter Valley Training Company, Australia’s oldest group training organisation (GTO), which was created in partnership with industry, unions and government to provide a revolutionary approach to apprentice training. The GTO model was subsequently adopted across Australia as governments recognised the importance of GTOs as a key element in increasing the uptake of apprenticeships and traineeships and meeting skills shortages.  

Another significant involvement was his participation in the national amalgamation of over 360 tasks into 20 skills levels, allowing the metals and engineering industry to be the first to implement competency-based progression and pay.

Mr Wright’s more than 50 years of leadership in Australia’s VET sector includes past and active participation in no fewer than 14 industry boards and committees including:

  • consultant with the Australian Industry Group

  • Board Member of the NSW TAFE Commission

  • Member of the TAFE NSW Higher Education Governing Council

  • Director of WorldSkills Inc

  • Supporting Australian youth through the HRH Duke of Edinburgh Commonwealth Study Conference

  • Establishing the prestigious Phil Darby Memorial Encouragement Award for Apprentices and Trainees category of the NSW Training Awards

  • Member of the Commonwealth Study Conferences Australia Incorporated Executive Committee.

Mr Wright’s contributions demonstrate a lifetime commitment to enhancing the quality of relevance of Australian VET for the benefit of students and industry. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1998 to recognise his outstanding service to the metal trade industry. His nomination for the 2016 Australian Training Awards Lifetime Achievement Award was supported by the Hon John Barilaro MP, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Skills, and Minister for Small Business, NSW.