VET award a win for team spirit

A school in Kempsey has been recognised for providing excellent vocational education and training (VET) programs to its students.

St Paul’s Catholic Secondary College Kempsey, took out the School Pathways to VET Award 2020 at the Australian Training Awards despite devastating bushfires in the region during this time last year.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment award celebrates good employment outcomes for students along with community involvement in the program.

VET Coordinator Graham Bramley said the community support for the school’s agricultural, construction and hospitality training programs was “phenomenal”.

About 10 percent of students at St Paul’s are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent. The school receives support from the RSL and other businesses which helps provide equipment for functions, apprenticeships and work experience for students.

This area was seriously affected by bushfires, so it is a great tribute to the community to win something like this.

Former Principal Kevin Lewis, who left the school after nine years as the principal for a new appointment at the end of 2020, said eight out of 12 construction apprentices go on to permanent employment following the Pathways program.

Bramley said the school’s VET students were in high demand, with many finding their way into agriculture, construction and hospitality industries locally and further afield.

Lewis said the win was a tribute to teachers and support staff who work together to bring the program to fruition.

“Last year I remember standing outside the school and seeing an orange glow on the horizon,” Lewis said. “Some of our students lost properties. This area was seriously affected by bushfires, so it is a great tribute to the community to win something like this.”

An IEU member for more than 20 years, Lewis said working as a team includes having an open and welcoming relationship with IEU reps, and this has always been part of his philosophy at the school.

St Paul’s College opened its new trade training centre in 2015 to provide students with the opportunity to study agriculture and related skills relevant to their farming community.

Sue Osborne