Source: Catholic Outlook, August 2016
By Greg Whitby
When we think about contemporary models of schooling, Vocational Education Training (VET) is not typically one of the first things that comes to people’s minds. In fact, it has been suggested that VET is no longer relevant in a knowledge age, given it was introduced to meet the growing demand of trade-based jobs 30 years ago.
At the end of end of this month, National Skills Week (29 August to 4 September 2016) will recognise and celebrate the student benefits and career pathways associated with vocational education.
National Skills Week serves as a timely reminder that vocational study is not only relevant in the 21st Century, but that it offers a balance between theory and practice that traditional models of learning and teaching could learn from.
The power of the VET model is the connections it builds between industry and school and the hands-on learning it delivers. Unlike other Australian states and territories, New South Wales allows dual accreditation, which means that VET subjects can count towards HSC and ATAR scores.
VET also enables students to have a two-year engagement with an industry or commercial partner and this structured work-placement model allows students to apply their learning and skills to real world contexts, not just in the classroom.
Many VET students will tell you that one of the best aspects of their study is the experience of working alongside and learning from experts. The combination of on-the-job experience while studying is a powerful learning model that we should look to in our contemporary approach to improving student learning and teacher training.
This acknowledges the work of both students and teachers in ensuring the high standard of vocational learning and teaching across Catholic secondary schools in the Diocese. Congratulations to the students recognised and their teachers, industry partners, mentors and the team at the office who support them.
In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with our new Bishop, Vincent Long OFM Conv, and brief him on the work of Catholic Education in the Diocese. I am very encouraged by his support of our direction and eagerness to work in collaboration with our leaders and staff. He has a keen interest in education and formation and we are blessed to have his pastoral leadership.
More than 300 pilgrims have just completed our diocesan pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2016, which was an opportunity to share and celebrate their Catholic faith with other young people from all over the world in Krakow where WYD began.
Greg Whitby is Executive Director of Schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.