Sandra Van Der Gaag

Sandra Van Der Gaag

WOODSIDE employee Sandra Van Der Gaag has represented the oil and gas sector on the national stage by scooping the award for Australian Trainee of the Year at the Australian Training Awards.

Announced at a glittering ceremony in Hobart last Friday 20 November, the awards are run by the Australian Government to recognise the achievements of business, registered training organisations and individuals in vocational education and training across 18 categories.

Already a qualified engineer, Ms Van Der Gaag undertook a Certificate III in Process Plant Operations at the Challenger Institute of Technology in Western Australia to gain the technical and hands-on experience required to work in process plant operations.

This involved a traineeship with Apprenticeships Australia and hosted by oil and gas producer Woodside, where she was a process operator at its Karratha Gas Plant.

During her traineeship, Ms Van Der Gaag received the Woodside Safety High Achiever Award in recognition of her contribution to safety in the workplace and in 2014 was a finalist in the Group Training Western Australia Awards.

The knowledge and practical experience that she gained through her traineeship saw her eventually gain a permanent, full time position at Woodside.

AMMA executive director Tara Diamond, who was on the judging panel for the Employer of the Year Award (won by Crown Perth), congratulated Ms Van Der Gaag on her achievement.

“AMMA is extremely proud to see the oil and gas sector represented in the trainee of the year category this year,” Ms Diamond says.

“Sandra’s decision to further her skills base by undertaking technical training is highly commendable. Both her employment with Woodside and her award win demonstrate her dedication to her traineeship and aptitude for applying her learnings in a practical environment.

“As Australia continues its transition to a resources production phase, we will need more talented and multi-skilled professionals like Sandra to operate our world-leading oil and gas projects to the highest standards.”

As director of AMMA’s national gender diversity initiative, the Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA), Ms Diamond is encouraged to see a woman recognised in this important award category.

“Women are traditionally under-represented in technical roles in the resource industry, and make up about 15 per cent of the national oil and gas extraction workforce. So it is especially pleasing to see a woman celebrated for her achievements in this area. I’m sure Sandra has already inspired other women and men to follow in her footsteps,” Ms Diamond says.

Click here to view the 2015 Australian Training Awards winners.