August 30th, 2017

National Skills Week, Australia’s pinnacle week for celebrating vocational education and training (VET), is currently being celebrated across the country (28 August- 03 September), promoting the many varied pathways available through apprenticeships, traineeships, and vocational learning.

Hundreds of events are taking place, including events such as The Gordon Girls Big Day Out, held by The Gordon Institute of TAFE on the 31st August, the event is an annual day that introduces trade and non-traditional career options to Year 9 girls from surrounding Geelong secondary schools. The event is an invaluable tool for motivating and communicating to young women the significance of women in trades and the opportunities available to females. Traditional trades are one of many careers that are recognised during National Skills Week.

It is imperative that all young adults are aware of the career opportunities that are available to them. The stereotype of gender-based careers is no longer applicable in today’s contemporary society, with vocational education and training allowing individuals the flexibility to pursue careers to their passion,” says Kirstin Casey, General Manager of SkillsOne.  

Marc Nichol, 2016 Australian Training Awards VET Teacher of the Year finalist and National VET Alumni member, completed a Diploma in Event Management and worked in the industry for seven years before he began looking for a career change. In 2011, Marc decided he wanted a career where he could pass on his knowledge and experience to the next generation of event professionals. He undertook sessional teaching work in the events department at Holmesglen, where he felt the support and encouragement of a VET environment.

We’re not in the gold watch era anymore where we stay in a job for 40 years. We want to change and experience new things and VET embraces that flexibility and embeds it into the qualifications.”

Sharing these stories is what’s going to generate such good things in the VET sector and create and more positivity and that’s what we really need,” says Marc.

Marc is a strong believer in learning outside the classroom, a philosophy, that he includes in his teaching. He actively enhances students’ experiences within programs by best preparing them for the workplace through initiatives such as internships within the industry and international study trips. Marc continues to work in the event industry and is always looking for new ways to enhance his teaching.

Another individual who changed careers and pursued his passions through VET is Victorian Chris Henbery, 2015 Australian Apprentice of the Year Award finalist and National VET Alumni member. Working most of his life as a banker in London, Chris immigrated to Australian in 2011 with his Australian wife and young son. He used the move as a chance to change careers and follow his true passion of horticulture.

I actually left a 9 and a half year banking career and really just wanted to take the opportunity to take on a career that I loved and had a passion for and horticulture offered that for me. The thing I loved about the apprenticeship was that I didn’t have to just focus on study. I could work and I could still earn money while I was doing the apprenticeship and that’s a great benefit,” says Chris.

Chris studied a Diploma of Horticulture two nights a week, and within one year of his training at Gardenworld Nursery and Swinburne University of Technology, he had already received several awards. In 2012, he was awarded a $1,000 Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria (NGIV) scholarship which he put towards his studies. In 2013, he won the Swinburne University of Technology Outstanding Apprentice of the Year, a bronze medal for an inspirational garden design at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and received the NGIV Apprentice of the Year Award. In 2014, Chris won an Academic Achievement  Award from Swinburne for his high standard of work.

If you got something that you’re thinking of doing and that you know you have a passion for, just go for it. The Certificate III and the apprenticeships allow you to push forward with that and really to hone in those skills and that passion and to grow it,” says Chris.

Chris is now a fully qualified horticulturalist employed by Gardenworld Nursery with aspirations to start his own nursery in the future.

For further information on Marc and Chris’ story, or other engaging career stories from the Australian Training Awards program, visit the Australian Training Awards website.

SkillsOne will be showcasing VET qualifications during National Skills Week from 28 August to 3 September 2017. During this week, Australia will highlight the breath in career opportunities available through a VET qualification. To organise an event, or take part in the many events that can be found across the country, visit the National Skills Week website.


For more information please contact: Kirstin Casey (General Manager at SkillsOne)

Mobile: 0420 652 558 Email:

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