One VET course can change an entire life

A group of 12 public schools in Northern Adelaide joined forces to bring VET opportunities to all their students, forming the Northern Adelaide State Secondary Schools' Alliance (NASSSA).


Vocational Education and Training (VET) is more than a door to a job – it’s the key to a career.

That key could unlock a future promotion, a new passion, or lead to a different path altogether. Either way, choosing VET gives you a head start on your working life, especially if you’re yet to enter the workforce.

A group of 12 public schools in Northern Adelaide joined forces to bring VET opportunities to all their students, forming the Northern Adelaide State Secondary Schools' Alliance (NASSSA). The result is a collaborative network of VET trainers, and a wide pool of quality courses that students can access.

For the Director of NASSSA, Heather Bitter, and the NASSSA team, helping students to realise the benefits of VET early in life is crucial to the Alliance’s success.

“All of the Alliance’s school principals value VET just as much as university, if not more. It’s really important that young people understand they can start earning and working in a career right out of school,” said Heather.

Heather has seen firsthand the life-changing impact that VET courses can have on a young person’s career.

“We had a young lady attend a NASSSA school who came to Australia when she was 11. She had only ever lived in a refugee camp in Tanzania and could speak no English when she arrived,” explained Heather.

After forming a connection with a particularly outstanding VET trainer, this student became fluent in English and gained a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance.

She then went on to win the Vocational Student of the Year award at the 2019 Australian Training Awards.

“For a kid who was born in a refugee camp and had only been speaking English for six years, it was amazing,” said Heather.

While the student also went on to attend university, her prior VET qualification meant that she was already prepared to enter the workforce.

Heather said this meant the student could earn a dependable income and build on her professional skills, all while completing further study.

“This is just one example of what VET can do for young people; the opportunities that it opens up are just incredible,” said Heather.

While VET can teach you the skills needed to perform a particular job, it can also assist with the transition into any workplace.

“We do destination surveys which showed that 90% of students who did VET believe that the course helped them get to where they are now,” said Heather.

“It’s not like a school subject; we treat it like they are going to work. They’re expected to turn up, they have breaks separately, they have to wear their work uniform, and right from the start we give them a taste of what the real job they’re training for is like.”

The practical structure means VET students are ready to work as soon as they finish the qualification. But first, they need to choose what course to take.

That’s where Director of Student Pathways Neville Hubbard comes in – he helps students decide which path to pursue.

Neville said students are often surprised to find out the variety of unique careers available through a VET pathway.

“Screen and media qualifications are really new on the scene. VET in this area allows people to go into careers in digital design, game design and programming,” Neville explained.

“Beyond the gaming industry, it can take people into developing augmented reality and digital walkthroughs, all sorts of audio-visual simulation for defence industries, and a whole range of other jobs. It’s a very exciting area.”

Neville has seen countless students from VET turn the skills from their qualification into lifelong careers.

“As the old saying goes, the world is your oyster. For the students, VET is the starting place and once they get going the possibilities are endless.”

“I often talk about past students from our automotive class that have gone on to be state managers and now run their own business and a whole range of things,” adds Neville.

“The VET course and the attainment of that qualification is often just the foundation to bigger and better things.”

Choosing a course in vocational education is just the beginning. The skills you learn can help you pursue a whole range of different pathways and jobs in the future.

The MySkills website can help you find the right VET course to take this first step.