The Educational Pathways Pilot Program (EPPP) has been instrumental in shifting perceptions around vocational education in pilot schools and beyond. However, there’s still work to be done on that front. It’s clear that myths, like old habits, die hard. And, unfortunately, the notion that vocational training represents a ‘soft option’ still persists in some quarters. In the past, this thinking has sometimes led to students missing out or signing on to courses that aren’t aligned to their skills or interests.
In a great example of different initiatives working together to create opportunities for students, Joyce and Olga, (two of our Head Teacher Careers), partnered with MyGateway, one of our GTOs engaged in the Extend Smart & Skilled to school students via GTOs initiative.
This resulted in a Automotive Taster Course run by MyGateway in south-west Sydney which was successful in large part because Joyce, Olga and the Campbelltown-based Group Training Organisation (GTO) ran a robust selection process. “A representative from MyGateway interviewed all the students that had expressed an interest in the course,” says Joyce, Head Teacher, Careers for the Liverpool Cluster of schools.
“They were looking for confidence, a readiness for the workforce and an interest in pursuing an SBAT in Automotive.”
Joyce and Olga, (two of our Head Teacher Careers), targeted Year 10 and 11 students from 11 schools in South-west Sydney, with 12 students from six of those schools ultimately filling the places on the course. On Monday 17 May, students from Ashcroft, Bonnyrigg, Bossley Park, Cecil Hills, Liverpool Boys and Miller Technology High Schools turned up at the TAFE NSW Wetherill Park campus for an intensive, eight day introduction to Automotive. And it’s a good thing none of them thought VET was a ‘soft option.’
“It’s not all fun and games and playing around in the workshop. The course was a mix of theory and practical work, and students had to complete four units of competency,” says Joyce.
In addition to the requisite units of competency, students also learned to work well with others, sharpened their communication skills and discovered what employers are looking for in new hires. It was an eye-opening experience for the students, the majority of whom had no prior VET experience. For some, it was a particularly rewarding experience.
“All the students did really well, but there were seven that showed real promise,” says Olga, Head Teacher, Careers for the Cowpasture cluster of schools.
“MyGateway will be contacting those students shortly and offering them work experience placements with local employers in the automotive industry.”
The Automotive Taster Course run by MyGateway was an example of the ‘test and try’ initiative firing on all cylinders. The GTO ran a serious course for serious students, and no stone was left unturned. MyGateway even provided PPE for the students, saving families a considerable upfront cost. Considering their approach, it’s little wonder the course proved to be such a success.