“There’s still a big emphasis on the university pathway in our schools, but I’m saying ‘look guys, there are other options,’” says Olga.
Not only are there other options, but today there are more vocational pathways available to students than ever before. The challenge - or one of them - is promoting those opportunities effectively in schools. To do that, Olga is working closely with the Careers Advisers in the Cowpasture Cluster of schools to help them draw attention to these opportunities and, in turn, broaden careers education from the current emphasis on university to include the huge range of VET opportunities.
“We’re starting to shift the focus to include vocational education,” says Olga.
Happily, Olga’s message about the importance of vocational education is also resonating with parents. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the cluster’s careers advisers and parents are beginning to understand where the skill shortages lie and how a vocational education can lead to a great career. It’s a welcome shift and one that is paving the way for more effective engagement with students.
“It’s hard to get kids ‘work ready’ if their parents aren’t on board,” says Olga matter-of-factly.
So, what’s happening on the ‘work ready’ front in the Cowpasture Cluster? As it happens, quite a lot.
There is a lot of work being done to equip students with the maths skills they will need at work, with a Maths in Trade course launched recently and a teacher training program scheduled to begin early next year. The schools are also holding mock interviews to prepare Year 10 students for the real thing, and one careers adviser has been running a dedicated Job Ready class. Significantly, Olga and her team are also working to increase their engagement with local employers.
“We’re working with the Regional Industry Education Partnerships (RIEP) program, and have given them a few ideas,” says Olga.
With potential opportunities in construction, health, manufacturing and infrastructure in the local area, Olga and her team are excited about what the future might hold for students from the Cowpasture Cluster of schools who are looking to combine their schooling with on-the-job experience and, eventually, a good job.