Employees at B&J Building are walking tall after the Kimberley-based manufacturing company was awarded the Australian Apprenticeships Employer Award at the Australian Training Awards.
Company accountant Gareth Owen said the company, with just five apprentices at the moment, won the gong in Melbourne over other companies with hundreds.
"It was more about how we organise our apprenticeships and our trainees than the numbers it's about how you do it, not how much you do," he said.
Mr Owen said after a week in which many retrenchments were announced across the manufacturing sector, the company firmly believed training was a way to protect jobs and the business into the future.
He said several years ago, management had moved away from a focus on skilled migration to training and recruiting young indigenous locals.
Last year, one of their recruits, boilermaker Josh Sibosado, was awarded Master Builders Association Regional Apprentice of the Year.
Mr Owen said B & J had engaged with a registered training organisation to construct several courses in a way that suited their specific requirements.
As well as apprenticeships in boilermaking and carpentry/joinery, staff have been supported to achieve accredited qualifications in training and assessment, project management, health and safety, financial services and warehousing.
The company had also recruited an onsite trainer and mentor, Mr Owen said.
"The whole organisation became a lot more skilled at having trainees and apprentices and as a result they came into the program a lot easier," he said.
He said assessors who visited Broome had been "blown away" by their achievements.
"To pick unemployed youth up in Broome in the kind of numbers that we do is not easy - we would start 30 or 40 people a year and most of them don't make it," he said.
"In order for a reasonable number of them to make it, we have to have that support mechanism in place all of our staff got a buzz out of us being nominated and are very excited about us winning."
He expected the company would now attract more experienced trainers on staff.
B&J Building manager Paul Watling said the award was a vindication of the work of the trainees, apprentices, trainers and mentors had done.
"In a week that featured job losses at manufacturing businesses across Australia we were proud to have been recognised at the pinnacle of the vocational training tree," he said.
Other WA winners included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Nathan McGuire, Small Training Provider of the Year Labtech Training and Large Training Provider of the Year Challenger Institute of Technology.