August 11th, 2016

Over the past ten years Vocational Education and Training has emerged as an education avenue that prides itself on flexibility. The system’s ability to cater to individual lifestyles and accommodate people’s needs, such as what they want to study, where, and when, is a concept to be held in high respect during National Skills Week in August and September.

In an effort to encourage more skilled professionals to enter the workforce, VET seeks to understand people’s social, economic and cultural circumstances. Individuals such as Gold Coast based family man and community worker Mark Watego have benefited from choosing a VET pathway for its flexibility, going on to land career success.

This week it was announced that Mark Watego is TAFE Queensland Student of the Year. At the wise age of forty-six, Mark started a normal day at 5:30am and was back in bed by 11:00pm, enough time to exercise, tend to his five children, attend work, and study. Although demanding and taking its toll, Mark would not have been able to combine study into his life if it wasn’t for the flexible study plan that TAFE provided, which involved the option to work from home at a time that best suited Mark’s already busy schedule. Vocational Education focuses on continually providing benefits that deliver flexibility to students, such as:

  • Embracing a range of ways that students can be trained, such as in class, online, in work- placement and through an Australian Apprenticeship.
  • Making study available in varying times, and through different media outlets that are most accessible to an individual.
  • Placing importance on convenience in the face of life demands such as chores, tending to children, working, community commitments, and other life responsibilities.
  • Focusing on the importance of where, when and how for an individual.Vocational Education listens to an individual’s needs, and if Australia is to rise above nationwide skills shortages, the Industry needs to tap into professionals from all walks of life, says General Manager at SkillsOne Kirstin Casey.

    “All Australians are capable of finding a fulfilled and successful career, and Vocational Education makes that possible for a range of people and demographics,” Kirstin said.

“Mature aged students are valued by employers for their wisdom, knowledge and the support they provide to younger workers, while people with families are sought after for their commitment, loyalty and ability to multi-task. Vocational Education values these people and makes it possible for them to venture on a career pathway that best suits their needs and lifestyle.”

Throughout National Skills Week in August and September, VET’s flexible approach will be explored in an effort to help people better understand the opportunities available to them if they choose to venture down a career pathway while still sustaining their already established lifestyle. There are also people that do not believe that the VET system will accept them because of their life experiences, which is not the case, as exemplified by the story of Brendan Murray.

Because of his past academic records Australian Training Award’s 2015 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Student of the Year Finalist Brendan Murray was an individual who achieved what he believed to be the impossible. He grew up in the foster care system and instilled in him was the passion to make a huge difference to other people’s lives in the community as a Youth Worker, a career that VET made possible through a Certificate IV in Youth Work. When discussing the Australian Training Awards, Brendan reveals that he was “chuffed” but shocked that he was nominated because he felt like he was unable to achieve it.

“I never really achieved anything in the education side of things … And I thought well there’s no chance, they’ll pick some sort of flashy young guy or young girl to do that and to represent the state and stuff like that, but little did I know that it was more about the real stories and the real people, that that’s what they wanted to have and that’s why they nominated me,” Brendan said.

“At my age of 46 when I began training it was very hard, because I didn’t complete any schooling in my life sort of thing, I didn’t even complete grade six so that was a barrier unto its own, that I had to sort of begin reading grade four books and stuff at the beginning of my training.”

Brendan said that he was set on having qualifications behind him because he believed that his job transformed into a career, and VET helped him understand the policy and procedures that would allow him to carry out his work on a professional level.

“You can always do more training. Even if you think you can’t achieve your goals to get the employment or career you’re looking for, it’s never too late to go back to school and do more training. The VET training sector is always a great stepping stone into further training as well,” Brendan said.

Brendan motivates others in the community to take up more training, no matter what their circumstances and needs are, because VET will accommodate them.

For further information on Brendan’s story or that of other Australian Training Awards Alumni and Australian Apprenticeships Ambassadors visit and

Join us during National Skills Week and celebrate how VET can provide endless career opportunities to individuals from all walks of life. Organise an event, or take part in the many events that can be found on the National Skills Week website:

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