August 31st, 2016

The Hon John Barilaro MP New South Wales Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business officially launched National Skills Week in New South Wales at a private cocktail function at Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College on August 29. The event celebrated the many benefits of Vocational Education and Training, and turned attention toward the need for Industry and Government to bring back public confidence in the sector.

Minister Barilaro passionately backed Vocational Education for the valuable opportunities it presents to all Australians, and stressed the importance to encourage and support more people into taking up a VET study pathway. He believes that the VET sector is catering to current jobs, jobs of the future, and has the capacity to provide a good quality of life for everyone.

General Manager at SkillsOne Kirstin Casey said: “Government and Industry are working together to generate greater public understanding on the career progressions and opportunities available through VET, and the valuable role it plays in skilling Australians and connecting them to successful career pathways.

“The NSW Launch of National Skills Week achieved great success in generating discussion on the importance of VET to the development of the nation, and showcasing some of the many positive stories that have emanated from individuals who made Vocational Education a first choice.”

Principal of Southern Cross Patrick O’Reilly enlightened the audience on the correlation between practical training and skill development, and the many ways the college supports students, and provides them with invaluable opportunities in their chosen field of study. He pointed to the strong network of the college, and acknowledged Vocational Education as the best means of effectively training future professionals.

Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College in Burwood opened in 2010 after a group of eleven Catholic schools in Sydney’s Inner West formed a consortium. The unique college won the ‘School Pathways to VET’ Australian Training Award in 2013 and 2015.

Director of Teaching and Learning at Sydney Catholic Schools Dr Michael Bezzina said: “Sydney Catholic Schools has a strong commitment to providing a broad range of learning experiences for our students. Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College and our three regional Trade Training Centres are a key part of the way we do that.

“Through them and their close links to industry, we have the capacity to provide our students with real- world learning opportunities and pathways to ensure that they become highly skilled and career-ready.”

Students from Southern Cross College provided world-class food, service and entertainment at the launch, including a Hollywood inspired beauty demonstration and fashion show. The college also displayed a variety of stalls, which showcased some of the many study options available at the college. One main feature on the night was an impressive doughnut wall spelling out SKILLS.

Integral to National Skills Week and VET are the individuals who have completed study through VET and gone on to achieve career success. Founder of National Skills Week and host on the night Brian Wexham interviewed Australian Training Award’s 2012 School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year Jessica Taggart, and national finalist for this year’s NSW Training Awards Alana Samrani, both revealing inspiring success stories made possible through VET.

Jessica Taggart changed her parent’s perceptions of VET after she gained career success and Industry praise for her contributions and studies in the field of Health Services. She said she would back anyone interested in taking up Vocational Training, and revealed that her training allowed her to gain full time employment as a paediatric nurse.

Another influential Australian Training Award’s Alumni from NSW is 2014 Vocational Student of the Year Finalist David Bridge who became a manager at the age of only 21. Amongst a number of qualifications, David studied an Advanced Diploma of Meat Processing through VET. He values the Vocational Training he received for the way it added value to his work ethic and led to the development of a workplace training system in the company he works.

National Skills Week runs from August 29 to September 4, and launches will continue this week in major states and territories nationwide. For more information on the launches taking place visit the National Skills Week website:

Image credit: Gene Ramirez

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