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PM awards for winners at work

TWO Gisborne winners of the Prime Minister's Vocational Excellence Award are thriving in their work environment.

Charlotte Phillips and Stan Young were both surprised to be named winners of the award at their respective school prizegivings last year.

The award, launched in 2019, celebrates the achievements of secondary school students enrolled in vocational programmes and is aimed at raising the status of vocational education.

At the beginning of last year Charlotte Phillips approached Beauty Depot owner Juana Vincent and asked if she could do a Gateway work placement at the salon.

“Charlotte came to us last year through Girls' High to do work experience one day a week,” Juana said.

At first, she was unsure about having a student join her team as the job is demanding.

But she took Charlotte on.

“She started off doing work experience but then she was so great we hired her as a part-time receptionist to help us out in the salon, and she's just blossomed since then.”

Charlotte had no idea she was going to win the Prime Minister's Vocational Award last year, with her new employer and school staff secretly submitting the paperwork.

“It was really easy to write, because she's only 17, but has maturity well beyond her years and she's so eager to learn — she stands out,” Juana said.

Juana then brought up the prospect of an apprenticeship and after Charlotte spoke with her parents and teachers, she decided to take the plunge.

The transition from school to work life is big, Juana said — at school you get to hang out with friends all day, have all summer off school and few responsibilities.

“Then you start work and you have a boss expecting a lot from you.”

None of which seems to have bothered Charlotte, who says the best part of the job so far is a constant sense of progress through her apprenticeship.

“I love moving forward with my training and my capabilities. It's a great feeling once you get something ticked off,” she said.

“All through school I was that one kid who didn't know what I wanted to do. Everyone else had some idea and I had no clue. I guess I never realised it but I was always doing little beauty things at home.

“I spent so much time stressing about what I was going to do and then as soon as I got here I fell in love with it.”

Stan Young was at Lytton High School but he has started a cadetship with Growing Future Farmers at Ruakaka Station in Tiniroto.

At the moment his work on the farm leans towards general tasks like drenching animals and different odd jobs, with complexity coming as he takes on more responsibility as the programme progresses.

He says the best part of the job has been spending time outdoors and working with animals. The worst has been blackberry spraying.

As with Charlotte the award was a surprise.

“I knew I was going to win something, but then all the smaller awards were given out and it was only the top awards left like dux.”

Then his name was read out.

“It was a great feeling.”

LOVing WHAT SHE DOES: Charlotte Phillips in the workplace doing what she does best. Picture by Liam Clayton