University is not for everyone but vocational education and training is still as good a pathway to a career as it ever was.
That was the theme of a forum held last week to ram home the point to high school students who are on the verge of making one of their biggest life decisions: a university degree or a trade?
More than 170 delegates attended the first ever Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Schools forum organised by MWLP Linking Youth, Teachers Guild of NSW and the Australian College of Educators Hills Parramatta.
School principals, VET coordinators, teachers, students, work placement providers, training organisations, business and industry were among the delegates at the forum.
An aim of the forum was to highlight that in the face of declining apprenticeship uptakes occurring at the same time as the health, ageing, disability and construction sectors were growing rapidly, VET was more important than ever.
The federal assistant minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews, one of the guest speakers, agreed.
“University is not for everyone and forums like this help raise the status of vocational education and training as a valued pathway for school students,’’ Ms Andrews told the forum.
“This is a terrific initiative that will help ensure students are aware of the full range of options available to them when it comes to choosing a job and career.
“I congratulate the organisers on today’s forum, which I hope will become a regular event on the school calendar and spread to other parts of the country.”
One of the forum’s keynote speakers Brett Judd, CEO of WorldSkills Australia, spoke passionately about VET in schools and the inspiring students his organisation works with.
“We have seen many young people transformed through the challenge of competition,’’ Mr Judd told the forum.
“Their dedication in undertaking months of intensive training to prepare for competitions, their satisfaction in achievement and the development of personal confidence has ensured that we continue to nurture young people to be the best they can be.’’
Dr David Williams, CEO of MWLP Linking Youth, spoke of the importance of connecting the classroom to the workplace and supplied participants with a model for industry engagement.
Janelle Henson, MWLP’s business development manager, introduced the idea of an industry evidence app for teachers, which was well received.
Teachers and VET coordinators indicated that this would be an ideal tool to use as a training resource.
Dr Frederick Osman, VET coordinator from Trinity Grammar and president of the Teachers Guild of NSW, spoke of forming VET professional clusters to foster continuing professional development, encourage and recognise excellence in best practice and to provide vital mentoring and networking opportunities.
Feedback from attendees on the day was very positive with an overwhelming desire for another VET in Schools Forum to be held in the future.
As one delegate put it: “The sessions re-affirmed what we all already know and believe; that VET offers lifelong value.”