July 26th, 2016

Last week the United Kingdom revealed new plans for Vocational Education, and India, a country expected to have the largest tertiary education demographic in the world is gearing up for new approaches to skilling people in an effort to avoid skills shortages. As Australia’s National Skills Week sets to explore these backyard and global trends in August, Vocational Education presents itself as part of the solution.

Engineering and Information Technology are two of the many areas that heavily rely on professionals that are able to work technically and adapt to changing conditions. Vocational Education presents many benefits such as work placement opportunities and apprenticeships that allow students to become appropriately skilled for the current and future workforce, advantages that are needed in countries around the world.

According to Siddarth Bharwani, Vice President at Jetking Infotrain Limited in India, “the Information age demands a very different skill set as compared to the Industrial age.” When talking to India Today last week, Siddarth expressed concern over how India’s Industry has failed to meet the demands of the new age because of the importance placed on “paper degrees”, rather than “skill-building.”

“Fundamentally, there is more work to do to ensure we have a skilled youth force ten years from now,” Siddarth revealed to India Today.

Australia and the United Kingdom similarly foresee these challenges, and aim to change timeworn education systems and pre-conceived notions of Vocational Education. It is time to empower Australia’s workforce to be academically, practically and technically skilled.

Kirstin Casey, General Manager at SkillsOne says, “skills shortages are becoming a global issue, which is why many countries aim to educate people on the benefits of Vocational Education and the rewarding career pathways it offers.

“National Skills Week will challenge Australians to think about how much they really know about VET, and inspire them to connect their passions with a career outcome. Countries around the world share a common aim in empowering their workforce to be academically, practically and technically skilled, made possible through a VET pathway.”

This year’s National Skills Week will bring an increased focus on Australian Training Awards Alumni and Australian Apprenticeships Ambassadors in an effort to harness and promote the positive stories emanating from VET.

One such story is that of 2015 Australian Training Award’s South Australian Apprentice of the Year and Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador Jessica Wooley, an Electrician who was determined to start young.

“I started as a shy seventeen year old from Kangaroo Island who didn’t know much. I came out the other end as young adult who knew twice as much than if I hadn’t done an Australian Apprenticeship,” Jessica said.

Jessica recognised the values of VET and completed an Australian Apprenticeship, allowing her to gain a Certificate III in Electrotechnology. Practically trained and skilled, Jessica works on high voltage industrial equipment that holds 130,000 plus volts of power when switched on. She is recognised for her achievements in the workplace by taking out an Australian Training Award’s South Australia Apprentice of the Year win at the 2015 Australian Training Awards, and being applauded as best fourth year apprentice in SA Power Networks. She has also demonstrated her innovative and hands-on approach to work, going on to design an efficiency improvement system that her workplace now uses.

The practical and technical studies she pursued through a VET pathway shaped Jessica into a sought after professional who will make up the future workforce of her industry. VET provides the opportunity for passionate individuals like Jessica to learn fundamental on-the-job skills that will help them achieve their career goals and shape them into experts in their fields.

Recognising the hard work she has put in, and the many benefits VET has provided, Jessica says, “I can’t say enough about the life skills I’ve gained through my apprenticeship in addition to work skills. If you’re willing to try new things, it’s a great way to build a strong career.”

Global workforces are in need of trained professionals like Jessica who are employable for their academic, technical and practical skill sets, with VET at the forefront of creating these professionals.

For further information on Jessica’s story or that of other Australian Training Awards Alumni and Australian Apprenticeships Ambassadors visit https://www.australiantrainingawards.gov.au and https://www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au/australian-apprenticeships-ambassadors-program

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