On a winner with training

We’ve got some mighty good trainers in the Northern Territory. By trainers, I’m talking about vocational education and training (VET) practitioners. For those not sure about the term VET, you may be more familiar with technical (TAFE) education or apprenticeships and traineeships. That’s a good starting point. However, the modern VET system is much more. VET courses are demonstratable and practical skills used for work, not only for entry-level trade jobs, but also for leadership, management, and specialist technical jobs.

Like any education-related profession, VET trainers must ensure quality and consistency. They must be skilful in what they teach as well as their method of teaching and be able to adapt to the style of the learner. It is not easy. It is not simple. Often people can feel quite isolated. And for some time, trainer vacancies in the Northern Territory have been hard to fill. No trainer means no training delivery. No training delivery means no skills development. No skills … well, you get the picture.

As a solution, NT practitioners created a vibrant and connected community to share knowledge, solve problems, celebrate wins and encourage innovation. But more than this, the community helped remind people why they do what they do and why they are passionate about training.

“A strong VET workforce is critical to underpin and develop capacity within the Northern Territory. I am fortunate to engage with many talented people and I get a great sense of personal achievement by helping trainers strive to achieve their personal best, which perpetuates through to their students. When my students tell me, I’ve inspired them to continue learning, it’s just fabulous!” said 2019 NT VET Trainer of the Year, and member of the NT VET Community of Practice, Patricia Sweeney-Fawcett pictured at McArthur River Mine.

The Certificate IV in Training and Assessment is just one of the minimum requirements needed to be a vocational trainer. You also need to be able to walk the talk with experience, skills and/or industry qualifications. The learning doesn’t stop there with trainers looking to finetune their delivery skills, make learning appropriate and keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry sector.

What makes a good trainer a great trainer? This is where the Community of Practice kicks in as members of the group share information, discuss ideas and look to opportunities to collaborate.

Local VET Champion Judith McKay, the winner of the National Achievement Award in 2019, was in the middle of a project to create a virtual reality induction training tool for the Disability Sector. Then COVID-19 hit, so there were adjustments to the training plan and innovative solutions to make it work. Judith, also a Board member of Adult Learning Australia, shared her story and demonstrated the tools she used in a masterclass with her training colleagues in Darwin and Alice Springs.

The Australian VET system has copped considerable flack. The Joyce review Strengthening Skills recommended speeding up qualification development, simpler funding models and stronger quality assurance in training delivery. Industry groups wanted more flexibility and more timely refresh of qualifications to adapt to changing job requirements. Then there’s the 2020 June data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research that shows the NT is down nearly 30% in apprentice and trainee commencements compared with 2019. Clearly, there are challenges. However, it will all go to hell in a handbasket if there are no trainers to make the magic happen.

If you are interested in more information about a training career or being part of the Northern Territory VET Community of Practice, please contact Melanie Brenton at ISACNT.

To watch a 4-minute video explanation about VET in Australia, please click here.