Get a Trade and Stay in School

It’s a relatively new option for young men and women completing their senior years of high school and one that’s becoming increasingly more popular; to get a trade and stay in school for Year 11 and 12.

Currently, more than one third of Australia’s senior secondary students are enrolled in a Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Schools course1.

As well as being a popular choice for young people, it also has the tick of approval from parents and is helping to meet a goal set by the Australian Government to increase the proportion of students achieving Year 12 or an equivalent qualification to 90 percent by the end of 20152.

To meet this goal, to help address a national skills shortage in traditional trades and emerging industries and to improve the quality of industry recognised Vocational Education and Training, the Trade Training Centres in Schools Program was developed.

According to the Government, an important step in increasing the proportion of students achieving Year 12 or an equivalent qualification, was to ensure students have access to high quality, relevant education and training opportunities that continue to engage and encourage them to complete their studies.

Like so many other young people contemplating their future career options, Natalie Lantry’s son Clancy, a student at St Francis Xavier’s College (SFX), Hamilton, grappled with the issue of whether or not to stay in school.

Knowing this, but also wanting her son to complete the general education curriculum, Natalie was pleased to discover that a high number of VET courses were delivered locally by Catholic secondary schools in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. All Catholic high schools in the Diocese offer new state-of-the-art Trade Training Colleges or facilities to support VET courses.

VET courses, not to be confused with Veterinary studies, offer students courses which contribute to their HSC, such as construction and manufacturing trades, office work, retail, hospitality and technology. VET offers qualifications from a Certificate II to Certificate IV which can accredit towards a Diploma and Advanced Diploma.

Furthermore, as Ms Lantry was pleased to find out, VET would allow her son to study Metal and Engineering, Construction and Furnishing, thus commencing trade qualifications whilst still getting his HSC – all from school.

“Because of the VET in Schools program, Clancy has been able to target his studies towards the areas he loves. He’s doing subjects that he loves at school and this has really allowed him to shine,” Ms Lantry said.

“I have to give credit to both sides; I can’t say enough good things about SFX and the opportunities and education that have been made available to Clancy because of VET. But at the same time, he’s taken up the opportunity and really applied himself to these subjects.”

Like many young people, Clancy learns better interacting with his environment and using his hands. The practicality of subjects is great and suits Clancy’s way of learning. The teachers have offered nothing but great things and he’s now at the top of his form for furnishings, metals and construction. Furthermore I’m pleased that he can also still study traditional subjects like Maths, which will no doubt benefit any career choice he makes in the future.”

Clancy, who now has his sights set on a career in the construction industry said “I’ve been interested in the construction industry for quite a while and I will now leave school with qualifications in all three courses so I might get a head start on other people heading into the industry, which is good”.

Vocational Education Officer at the Catholic Schools Office, Lyndelle Neville, says Clancy’s story is a fantastic one, and sums up what VET courses and Trade Training Centres aim to achieve.

“It’s been identified by students, parents and industry groups that exposure to work placements through VET programs and work experience career options have a significant impact on the ability for students to successfully progress into post school pathways.

“Students gain industry and employability skills, to assist their transition to the world of work and gain skills and experience in career areas in which they may have an interest. Furthermore, the qualifications achieved makes students highly competitive and employable from an early age.”

All courses qualify students to continue on a pathway to TAFE, private providers or, in some courses, a credit towards their university entry. Most courses are at a Certificate II level, but some extend towards a Certificate III.

St Francis Xavier’s College, Hamilton, is just one of the 11 secondary schools in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, offering VET to students.

To find out which Catholic secondary schools offer courses in: Agriculture, Business Services, Construction, Electrotechnology, Entertainment, Furniture Making, Hairdressing, Hospitality, Information & Media Technology, Metal & Engineering, Retail Services and Sports Coaching, please visit and contact your preferred Catholic school and ask for the Curriculum Advisor.



Newcastle Catholic Schools officially open $6.9 million cluster Trade Training Centre!

On Tuesday 5 May, Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO will officially open the multi-million dollar Newcastle Catholic Schools Trade Training Centre (TTC) at St Francis Xavier’s College Hamilton (SFX).

SFX is the lead school of a cluster group of Catholic schools including St Paul’s, Booragul, San Clemente, Mayfield, St Pius X, Adamstown and St Mary’s, Gateshead, which received Commonwealth funding of more than $6.8 million to build TTCs providing state-of-the-art Vocational Education and Training resources for students.

The facilities developed in these schools focus on Hospitality and Building and Construction. However a unique aspect of this cluster was the inclusion, as partners, of the Yula Punaal Centre at Mandalong. This partnership allowed for the development of a TTC facility at the Mandalong site with the express purpose of addressing access to skills development for indigenous students, especially in the field of Land Management and Horticulture.

Vocational Education Officer at the CSO, Lyndelle Neville, said “We’re excited to offer these amazing TTC facilities to students and we’re looking forward to welcoming Senator Sinodinos to St Francis Xavier’s College and representatives from all cluster schools to celebrate this exciting time for Vocational Education and Training in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

* The Newcastle Catholic Schools Trade Training Centre received Commonwealth Funding of $6,815,909 and used $129,531 of additional school funding . Total cost: $6,945,440.

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Emma Blackford

Emma Blackford worked for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle from 2009-2017. During this time, Emma held the positions of Communications Manager for the Catholic Schools Office, Communications Manager for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle and Marketing and Communications Manager for CatholicCare Hunter-Manning.

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