July 25th, 2016

The National iAwards on September 1st urges everyone to actively reflect on innovation, what it means to Australia’s future, and how it contributes toward the nation’s economy, a topic of focus during National Skills Week in August.

Vocational Education and Training understands the nature of the Industry and the realities of current workplaces, many of which are in critical need of innovative minds skilled in finding new, and often more efficient ways of getting things done.

Globalisation and technology have created new demands on businesses in their quest to achieve company goals in an increasingly competitive market where invention and creation is key. The workforce seeks innovative employees not only for their ability to generate ideas, but for the way they ensure the constant evolution and economic endurance of a business. Their unique traits are highly sought after such as problem solving, curiosity, aspiration, and ability to clearly present ideas and solutions.

VET uses hands on approaches in skilling students, otherwise recognised as the innovators of the future. Students are trained by world-class teachers on how to transform academic knowledge into practical development, opening up valuable opportunities to them such as work placement and exposure to high- profile companies, both important benefits leading to employment. Innovation moves beyond techchnology based sectors, now recognised in creative fields such as fashion and design.

The Fashion Design Studio at Sydney TAFE, known as the only fashion school to showcase its designers at Australian Fashion Week, has created long-term relationships with established designers and high- profile labels in order to fully understand the nature of the sector and the types of employees businesses seek. Their acclaimed graduate fashion show, The Innovators, at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week earlier this year gained widespread media coverage for its innovative and thought provoking designs.

Senior Design Teacher at The Fashion Design Studio Lauren Washington says, “moving forward in education means that you not only have to have the academic skills but also the hands-on skills of an

occupation, and for me it’s obviously about design, knowing how to pattern make, knowing how to create, knowing how to innovate, and knowing how to realise designs.”

These skills have allowed students from The Fashion Design Studio to become innovators in their field and enter the workforce immediately, with up to 90 percent of students from the studio going straight into jobs after graduating.

“National Skills Week is proud to showcase a range of sectors that excel and thrive on innovation, such as fashion, design, beauty, floristry, information technology, mechanics and engineering,” Kirstin Casey, General Manager at SkillsOne said.

“The national launch at the Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne on August 24th will celebrate innovation by hosting a variety of interactive displays that people are invited to engage with.”

Another sector in need of continual innovation is engineering, a sector experiencing skills shortages. Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador and Australian Training Awards 2014 Australian Apprentice (Trainee) of the Year Joshua Lodge decided to study Chemical Engineering at TAFE, Hunter Institute. His decision was provoked by an interest in gaining more hands on experience, and developing his own ideas and projects.

“My career pathway in the power industry is very unique, I find it very interesting. There are many, many areas to look at,” Joshua said, providing insight into his broad-minded approach to work.

“I’m very happy I started with a traineeship as my learning pathway instead of jumping straight into university. It has allowed me to gain industry experience straight away, which can be difficult to obtain. I’ve also been able to undertake my own projects and work on a large variety of water treatment plants which has been the highlight for me.”

Joshua’s innovative project work and outcomes in training with VET have secured him full-time employment at Origin Energy, where he also mentors new trainees. He values The Australian Training Awards for the way it “inspires the next generation to look into a traineeship or apprenticeship whilst also recognising organisations that are achieving incredible goals around the country,” such as in areas like innovation.

For further information on Joshua’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

Celebrate innovation on September 1st by thinking out of the box and hash tagging #dedicateaday on social media. To find out more about the launch of National Skills Week in Melbourne visit https://www.nationalskillsweek.com.au/.

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