Training Awards Ambassadors Kelsey Commons and Rose Cox drop in on EDGE workshops

At the end of Term 1, Kelsey Commons and Rose Cox visited Airds and Bonnyrigg High Schools where they shared their VET experiences with EDGE workshop participants.

Image: Kelsey sharing her experience on her VET pathway

As we learned in Episode 2 of EPPP TV, Kelsey Commons was on the verge of dropping out of high school when a VET course in hospitality changed her outlook, and her career trajectory. Kelsey’s story is a remarkable one, and not one she feels the need to edit when talking to school students.

“I tell them my story, starting with how I didn’t like school, how I discovered hospitality, and eventually how I changed schools,” says Kelsey when we catch up to discuss her recent visit to Airds High School near Campbelltown.

It’s that kind of candour that makes Kelsey such an inspiring speaker. 50 Year 10 students from Airds High School listened intently as Kelsey discussed her VET journey, which has so far earned her a Certificate III in Live Production and Services and the 2019 NSW Training Awards VET in Schools Student of the Year award. During her talk, Kelsey touched on the reasons that led her from hospitality to live production, the opportunities that VET can lead to, and her NSW Training Awards ambassadorship. She also talked about some of the exciting events she’s worked on, and the fact that live production is picking up again with the easing of COVID restrictions.

After her talk, Kelsey moved around the EDGE workshop groups where students were picking up valuable tips and tricks to help them get ‘job ready.’ The smaller group settings allowed students to chat to Kelsey informally.

“I met two awesome girls who are studying retail and working at Kmart and just really enjoying the course,” says Kelsey.

“I was also chatting to a bunch of boys at one stage and I asked if any of them knew what they wanted to do. One of them mentioned becoming a chef, so I encouraged him to give it a go.”

The day ended up inspiring Kelsey as much as the students she met. It also left her marvelling at the initiative.

“I wish I’d had access to this as a student,” says Kelsey, noting that her teenage self would have benefited from an EDGE workshop.

“It was great to see students learning all this stuff, and learning how to do it on a budget. That was impressive.”

At about the same time that Kelsey was visiting Airds High School, EPPP Ambassador Rose Cox was talking to a group of Year 11 students at Bonnyrigg High School as part of their ‘Work Ready Day.’ If there was a key takeaway for the students from Rose’s talk, it was that a career pathway is never set in stone.

“I think the students were amazed about my journey because where I started, in school doing hospitality, is not the pathway I am on now,” says Rose, who is currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts at Macquarie University in Sydney.

“But they saw that it doesn’t matter, because VET gave me a bunch of transferable skills that continue to benefit me in my work and my life in general.”

While ‘job ready’ workshops are often pitched at Year 10s, the audience at Bonnyrigg was slightly older, which changed the nature of Rose’s interactions with them. With many of the students already engaged in some kind of vocational training, the small group discussions focused less on VET and more on work.

“The students were all really curious about work placements, and how to get the most out of them,” says Rose.

“I had a student asking me how to leave a positive impression on their employer, and others who wanted to know more about the pathways they could pursue after school.”

All in all, it was a productive visit and, like Kelsey’s, an inspiring one.

“I’m always so inspired by the students’ dreams and goals,” says Rose.

“I think the more we can go and speak to students about what pathways are available to them and the long term benefits of vocational training, the more we can break down stereotypes and open their eyes to a whole new range of opportunities.”

If you are interested in an EPPP Ambassador visiting your school email the EPPP team.

  • Skills
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