A Life Shaped

Craig McCallum, Director Marketing and Media, TAFE Western Sydney

She seemed confident when she first walked through the doors of her local TAFE campus, but Chantel’s* bravado masked a history of significant hardship.

Chantel’s disadvantaged background and early foray into motherhood meant that she fell well short of her academic potential. But her young daughter was the impetus for Chantel to rise above her sphere of disadvantage and seek help from TAFE.

Enrolling initially in the Certificate III in Hospitality at Mount Druitt College, Chantel embarked on training to gain employment in a restaurant or club.

Her teachers were aware from the outset that Chantel needed to gain a whole swag of skills. Seeing a diamond in the rough, they took her under their wings and provided training to suit her needs.

Presentation, language and social interaction were discussed on a weekly basis, along with hospitality skills. Soon Chantel took on a whole new persona as she sought to behave in a professional manner. She was shocked when, in return, customers spoke to her with respect and courtesy. Her teachers describe this as an ‘a-ha’ moment in Chantel’s development.

Chantel has continued her positive trajectory, gaining employment and continuing on to further studies. She is thankful for the patience and expertise of her teachers and for the experience she gained by studying at TAFE.

At TAFE Western Sydney, we see many students like Chantel, who, with guidance and support, make great gains for their futures by undertaking vocational training. They get experience and practical skills. They gain confidence in their abilities and become employable.

Others just need some specific job skills and experience to succeed along their own pathway. Some come to us to prepare for further studies or gain language, literacy or numeracy skills which allow them to flourish. Many find through their TAFE studies that a pathway opens up for them to complete their desired university studies and that they flourish there because of their TAFE backgrounds.

At a recent staff event for TAFE Western Sydney, I spoke about the valuable work in which our teaching and support staff are involved. It is a source of pride for me that I work for an organisation which is genuinely helping to shape the futures of a diverse range of people.

I am also frequently astounded by the sheer ubiquitousness of TAFE graduates. Wherever I go there are TAFE graduates who are underpinning the smooth running of society, be it through enabling my car to run, keeping the air conditioning functioning or creating the furniture for my office. TAFE has been there for these graduates, providing practical and relevant training and ensuring their employers that competencies have been achieved in a high quality training context.

TAFE is a well-established organisation but it is not stagnant.

TAFE Western Sydney has evolved over the years and will continue to change to meet the needs and expectations of the community by supporting the skill needs of individuals, employers and the community. We want to make sure that the right training is available where it is needed. An example of this is our development of Skills Exchanges where we can provide onsite training at major worksites such as Barangaroo, Darling Harbour. We are also in negotiations with some other major parties to add more Skills Exchanges.

As we evolve however, what will not change is our commitment to quality practical education and which trains students for real jobs. As we commence this new year, we continue afresh in this goal.
In 2016 TAFE Western Sydney will be able to continue to offer fully subsidised part-qualifications and pre-apprenticeships in areas marked as a priority by the NSW Government, that is, skill areas which have been identified as being required by employers. These courses are fee-free for those who meet eligibility for Smart and Skilled and can be a great way for students to ‘try before they buy’.

We will also continue to offer our full qualifications and customised training for enterprises.

Now is a great way to consider how your skill needs can be addressed in 2016.

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