Vocational program sets Ben on pathway to plumbing

Learning the tools of the trade was just an average school day for Ben Weiss. Duyen Nguyen reports.

A photo of a male student in front of a tree. A photo of a male student in front of a tree.
Image: Riverstone High student Ben Weiss is now a full-time apprentice plumber.

An innovative pathways program is helping to fast-track employment opportunities for students when they leave school.

Riverstone High School student, Ben Weiss, has already secured a full-time plumbing apprenticeship thanks to the Vocational High Schools Program (VHSP).

Ben began his professional development through work experience in Year 10 with a local plumber.

He was one of the first students at the VHSP, where he started a Certificate II Drainage, and has now become the first to receive a full-time apprenticeship after graduating.

“It’s not every day that someone my age knows what they want to do in life, so I feel privileged to have gained valuable skills from the VHSP,” Ben said.

He said the practical components of the course helped fast-track his career progression while still at school.

“It feels like I have already accomplished something. I’ve really been enjoying the last few days of work where I have been installing some roof plumbing at UNSW with a large crane,” Ben said.

Purpose-built, state-of-the-art facilities called vocational innovation centres are constructed to enhance pathways for secondary students who want to gain in-school VET (Vocational Education and Training) credits.

The VHSP helps bridge classroom learning with industry demands as it delivers courses specific to a region’s job and employment market.

Riverstone High careers adviser, Brittney Cull, said the VHSP enabled school and industry collaboration by building skills that aligned with workforce needs.

“Ben’s an excellent student who always tried his best and completed work on time. I congratulate him on securing an apprenticeship and know that his hard work in school has set him up for success,” she said.

Seven Hills High School Vocational Innovation Centre transitions adviser, Tonnie Slater, said the program was setting students up for success.

“Facilities like our newly opened centre allow for collaborative learning experiences for young people like Ben,” Mrs Slater said.

Ben said students about to start their last years of school should consider all the options available to them.

“I’d tell them to try their hand at one of the VHSP’s courses as it could mean you could later start an apprenticeship,” he said.

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