Single father of two Tim Pommerening was a little scared going back to school at the age of almost 40.
The first time around was extremely difficult for the Albion Park Rail man who was diagnosed with meningitis when he was young.
"The only problem I had from that was not being able to read and write properly," Mr Pommerening told the Mercury.
"I struggled through school and was forced to go to a whole lot of different schools.
"i went from Wollongong to Geelong to Molong. Wherever I went I struggled to read and write properly."
Fast forward to last year and Mr Pommerening started a Certificate III in Business Administration through the Wesley Mission.
He did so well in the course that Wesley nominated his their student of the year for the Illawarra South East NSW Regional Training Awards, which were launched on Monday at the Wollongong Art Gallery.
The awards aim to recognise and promote vocational education and training excellence in the Illawarra and South East regions of NSW.
Mr Pommerening also spoke during the launch, stating he wants to open a bike school for children aged six to 16.
"By the time I've taught them they will know all the road rules of riding a bike and how to pull a bike apart and then fix it again," he said.
A visibly emotional Mr Pommerening thanked the "world's best teacher" Jill Heaton for bending over backwards to help him succeed.
"I can't thank her and Wesley enough," he said.
"Completing that course has built my confidence up to 110 per cent. I'm now able to go to businesses and talk up my qualifications, not downplay them.
"I'm now fighting hard to help my boys get the best out of themselves."
Miss Heaton said she was extremely proud of Mr Pommernening.
"That's why he is here today. He has done very well," she said.
The awards are run each year by the Illawarra Vocational Training Committee (IVTC), comprising representatives from employers, group training companies and government agencies, on behalf of the Department of Training NSW.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the training awards were a key event on the vocational education calendar.
"They are an opportunity to recognise local achievement and the excellence of school-based trainees, trainees and apprentices in workplaces, and students in vocational studies," Cr Bradbery said.
The launch opens the awards for nominations, with the eventual regional winners going on to represent and compete against other regions in NSW, and those winners progressing to the National Awards.
.The 2020 regional training awards open for nomination include:
- Apprentice of the Year
- Trainee of the Year
- Vocational student of the Year
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student of the Year
- School based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year
- VET in Schools Student of the Year
- VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year
Nominations can be submitted at the Training Services NSW website.