Queensland high school students are continuing to embrace real-world skills training with almost two-thirds of the graduating class of 2020 finishing with an industry-recognised qualification.
In 2020, about 64% of the state’s 49,700 graduating Year 12s achieved a vocational qualification, opening up their post-school options and accelerating their careers.
Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) Chief Executive Officer Chris Mountford said National Skills Week (23-29 August) highlighted the valuable role of skills training in building the capacity and capability of the nation’s current and future workforce.
“The pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of having skilled and adaptable workers and vocational qualification pathways that enable young Queenslanders to upskill and re-skill in areas of employment demand,” he said.
In Queensland’s independent schooling sector, 152 schools offer vocational education and training (VET) to students through providers such as TAFE Queensland, Private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), school RTOs and/or school-based traineeships or apprenticeships (SATs).
ISQ has compiled a range of stories from the sector to mark National Skills Week. These stories celebrate the role dedicated school career and training staff play in supporting students to identify and pursue their goals, as well as training and workplace successes achieved by students.
Mr Mountford said Queensland had a strong record of VET participation in schools.
“In addition to specific VET pathways, Queensland senior students can also include vocational qualifications in their subject loads. Under Queensland’s new senior schooling and tertiary entrance system, Year 12s can count a completed Certificate III or higher towards their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) for university entry,” he said.
“In 2020, 11.4% of Queensland’s first cohort of ATAR-eligible Year 12s completed four general subjects and one eligible VET qualification.”
According to the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre 2020 ATAR Report, the most frequently completed VET qualifications at each level included the Certificate III in Fitness, Certificate IV in Crime and Justice Studies and the Diploma of Business.
Students can also undertake school-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SATs) as part of their secondary schooling, allowing them to earn a wage, train with an employer and work towards a nationally accredited qualification.
In 2020, about 12% of Queensland Year 12s were completing a SAT or had completed a traineeship by the end of their studies.
Mr Mountford said in 2020, 1,415 independent school students commenced an SAT, with funded SAT commencements in Semester 1, 2021 up 30%.
“Some of the most popular qualifications include the Certificate III in fields such as Electrotechnology Electrician, Early Childhood Education and Care, Business and Carpentry.”
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Stories to celebrate National Skills Week
Philip Sargeson, Warwick Christian College
Philip’s career journey to become a trainer assessor is inspirational. Though he didn’t finish high school, he arrived in Brisbane from New Zealand with two suitcases and $1000. Drawing on his entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit, Philip started his own graphic design business and formed a school breakfast club that is now a registered charity with a board of directors.
In recent years, Philip moved from marketing and communications to a teacher aide role and is now a trainer assessor at Warwick Christian College. Philip pioneered a white ink A3 printer in 2013 and humbly shares these skills and experiences with the young people in his care. He constantly researches and recommends tailored courses that help students at Warwick Christian College prepare for post-school destinations.
Philip is currently studying a range of micro-credentials including a Diploma of Leadership and Management and Certificate III in Aviation (Remote Pilot), which will be offered at the College in 2022 alongside a lunchtime drone club.
Tanya Gillies, King's Christian College
Imagine a class of 20 students, each studying a different subject and at different stages of learning. This is a typical day for Tanya Gillies. As an Education Support Officer at King’s Christian College, Tanya tracks and assists school-based apprentices and trainees with their off-the-job theory. She also attends sign-ups, conducts workplace visits, gathers feedback for end of term reports, coordinates work placement and supports the Future Pathways Officer.
Tanya loves her work with students at King’s Christian College and supporting them in their transformation to confident, highly skilled young adults.
This year, Tanya completed a Diploma of Business, which included a research report, the development of electronic resources, and other tasks contextualised to the VET and Careers space.
Jo Lindeman, Redlands College
Jo Lindeman tells students at Redlands College, “Opportunities don't come every day - seize them with every chance you get.” As a passionate advocate of vocational training with more than 26 years of diverse industry experience - from auctioneering and construction to marketing and conservation - she knows what she’s talking about.
Jo has a heart for young people who are struggling or disengaged from education and training. As a trainer, Jo says her best teaching moments are when her students have the ‘light bulb’ or ‘ah-hah’ moment.
She practices what she preaches and has completed short courses, skill sets, Certificate IV, and Diploma level qualifications. In 2020, Jo upgraded her training and assessment qualification to TAE40116 and is a trainer assessor for FSK20119 Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways. She is also the RTO Compliance officer, TAFE Coordinator, and a qualified Careers Practitioner.
Jo engages in voluntary work with local youth through her Church and community connections.
Work Experience Champions, Burnett Youth Learning Centre
Burnett Youth Learning Centre (BYLC) caters to students who have disengaged from mainstream education and offer a supportive, innovative learning experience on a 28-hectare farm south of Bundaberg.
The BYLC strives to ensure young people are equipped with transferable skills required for the future world of work and successful post-school transitions. Staff work hard to develop partnerships between home, school and employers, ensuring everyone is informed and involved.
Build positive relationships between school, community and industry
Dominic: Year 10
Dominic’s work experience is a shining example of how home, schools and employers can work together to improve a range of outcomes for a young person, including school engagement and positive behaviours.
After an eight-day placement at Reliable Hire Bundaberg, Dominic was offered paid work during the June-July school holidays. Dominic now hopes to secure a school-based traineeship and has clear goals for his future.
Work experience as a recruitment strategy for potential employees
Samantha: Year 12
Bundaberg South Veterinary Clinic was so impressed with Samantha’s work ethic over her five-day placement, they offered her casual work for the remainder of the year.
Samantha demonstrated a commitment to learning, using her initiative, problem-solving, getting along with everyone and a positive attitude towards the more menial tasks of cleaning and mopping.
Employers supporting students' education and personal development
Braden: Year 11
After completing Certificate I in Hospitality, Braden contacted Insane Caffeine for potential work experience or casual work. He was given a trial and offered employment after the first day.
Braden is happy to do whatever he needs to keep his job and has been given the opportunity to do further barista and coffee roasting training. Insane Coffee and the school work together closely to support Braden.