Ambassadors work the room promoting vocational pathways

Brendan Berecry meets the advocates inspiring students in their post-school choices.

A boy and a girl in front of a poster giving the thumbs up A boy and a girl in front of a poster giving the thumbs up
Image: Relatable: Ambassadors Ethan Zammit and Jade Barrington

The Educational Pathways VET Ambassadors have been making waves across NSW this year, spreading their Vocational Education and Training message to students across 149 Educational Pathways Program schools.

With a passion for connecting with students and communities and a commitment to inspiring the next generation of Vocational Education and Training (VET), these ambassadors have already inspired 1,339 students in just a few short months.

VET Ambassadors are all previous winners in the NSW Training Awards program.

Travelling to regions across the state, from Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven to Hunter and Central Coast, New England and Northwest, Illawarra, and Sydney Metro, the ambassadors have left a lasting impact on the students they've met.

2021 Australian and NSW Trainee of the Year Megan Cox said the VET Ambassador initiative was incredibly valuable for students.

“It allows them to meet real people and hear relatable and realistic career journeys,” she said.

“As ambassadors we share the highs and the lows, how we dealt with expectations, and highlight the opportunities VET has provided. Ultimately, the students see the success and fulfillment that taking our own path has given us, and feel empowered to make the best decision for their future.”

2019 Australian and NSW School-Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Arcadia Meldrum agreed the VET Ambassador initiative was key for many students.

“It allows them too visually see and hear a variety of individuals’ life stories and achievements which were completed through a VET pathway,” she said.

“It then resonates with students who are now sitting in the same position as we once were, allowing them to understand that they can achieve the same things or more.” 

Head Teacher Career Tracy Hicks, from Illawarra South, said the VET Ambassador program provided an opportunity for current students to share the career journey of a young person.

“The Ambassadors inspire and motivate through their stories and experiences and clearly demonstrate the benefit of gaining a qualification and connecting with industry while at school,” she said.

“Students walk away realising their own journey has begun, and that they need to own it.”

Head Teacher Careers Michelle Collison, from Illawarra North, said the VET Ambassadors who attended an Industry Market Day at Bulli High School had made their presence felt.

“The day aimed to promote vocational and skills pathways for students in years 10 through 12 by having them wander through the hall where industry had set themselves up,” she said.

“The ambassadors (2022 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the Year Jade Barrington and 2021 VET in Schools Student of the Year Ethan Zammit) were a huge hit with the students.

“Jade and Ethan were able to easily share their experiences with VET and were able to listen to the students when they in turn had questions.

“I will definitely have the ambassadors back and am looking for other opportunities to involve them in this year.”

Head Teacher Careers Joyce Choucair, from South Western Sydney, said the VET Ambassadors who attended Liverpool Boys High School for the SBAT Talk Day were brilliant, vibrant, and engaging.

“It has been beneficial for students to be able to speak to the VET Ambassadors in small groups,” she said.

Head Teacher Careers Jennifer Kennedy from Southern Highlands said the ambassadors created such a positive vibe during a VET Information Day.

“Hearing the message from confident young people that they could instantly relate to was empowering and has increased student and parent interest in Educational Pathways Program initiatives and VET pathways,” she said.

Hunter Head Teacher Careers Cassandra Wells said VET Ambassador 2021 School Based Trainee of the Year Chelsea McInnes was amazing in her presentations at Hunter Sports High School.

“She connected well with students in the Transition (T2) class, and inspired them to start thinking about their future and opportunities available while still at school,” she said.

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