The VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year Award recognises innovation and excellence by a vocational education and training (VET) teacher/trainer providing nationally recognised training to students at a registered training organisation (RTO), or in partnership with an RTO.

State or territory trainingaward winners of thiscategory are automatically finalists for the Australian Training Awards and will compete at the national level.

Steven Atkins has been employing his trade qualifications in commercial cookery for 15 years across a range of environments, including a 400 seat function centre, an award-winning a la carte restaurant, a café and the Educational College Restaurant. Over the past 11 years, Steven has delivered all the core units and many of the electives in the Certificates III and IV in Commercial Cookery at TAFE NSW - Western Sydney Institute.

In 2014, Steven was named the most outstanding VET teacher/trainer in Australia at the Australian Training Awards.

"It is an amazing honour to be named the national VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year. Winning the award has given me the opportunity to communicate with a larger audience around the benefits of vocational education and training and the important role that skills based training plays in the betterment of people’s lives," Steven said.

Steven’s teaching extends beyond the institute’s campus. Over the past five years he has designed a number of healthy eating plans for the local Indigenous community, with the intention of reducing Type 2 diabetes through the preparation of low sugar diets.

"I have always had a passion for teaching and I like to implement flexible and innovative ways for assessment and learning activities. It is important for skills based assessment to be conducted in a way that is both relevant to industry and the learner," he said.

Noting the financial pressures faced by some students, Steven led a resource development project to provide Hospitality and Commercial Cookery students with resources developed in-house and supplied on a USB, which cost each student $3 – a considerable saving on the previous cost of up to $300.

"Being able to stand alongside a learner as their confidence in their own ability grows, and to then see them gain employment and witness the positive changes that it has on them as an individual is a true privilege. Quality skills training changes lives, the more we can do to equip Australians with the skills required by industry the better our future will be as a nation," Steven said.