When Kirsten Potter decided to leave school early, everyone told her she was making the wrong choice.
Now she’s having the last laugh.
Kirsten had started Year 12 in 2012 at Bayview College in Portland but left after six weeks.
“Year 12 wasn’t for me,” Kirsten admits, but she knew what she wanted and how she was going to get there.
During Year 11 she had completed a VETis program in Community Services through South West TAFE and it confirmed her desire to work with children.
“The course gave us feelers of what we could do and I really enjoyed the childcare side of things,” she said.
In Year 12 Kirsten was enjoying her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education through TAFE but wasn’t interested in her other subjects.
“I was enjoying it and knew that was what I wanted to do,” she said. “Not too many people at my age know exactly what they want to do.”
The school encouraged Kirsten to finish Year 12 but her parents said she could leave if she found work as the Certificate III TAFE course was only one day a week.
Kirsten did a pros and cons list, found three-part-time jobs and worked out that she could achieve her goals quicker by leaving school and mixing work with study one day a week at TAFE.
“Once I weighed it up it was a pretty easy choice,” she said.
After successfully crossing the Certificate III off her list, Kirsten embarked on a Diploma of Early Childhood Education at South West TAFE in 2013-14.
This in turn opened a pathway to a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education at the Warrnambool campus of Deakin University starting in March 2015. She could complete the course over four years but Kirsten was determined to fast-track her studies.
“I decided to go full time and I’ve cut it down to two years,” she said. “I did four subjects instead of two over three trimesters in 2015 and didn’t take the Christmas break. I enjoyed not having the break and I’m doing the same this year.”
Kirsten also works five mornings per week at Elsa McLeod Kindergarten in Portland. The mix of study and work doesn’t leave much spare time but Kirsten is reveling in the challenge. “It’s all about time management,” she said.
In 2015 she undertook kindergarten and early childhood placements and in 2016 is doing placements at a primary school.
“Now I’ve done a primary placement that’s definitely what I want to do, but I’ve also taken any opportunity in early childhood or kindergarten,” she said.
Her early VETis studies not only proved inspirational, they provided a solid grounding for future success.
“What I learned in the VETis program helps me even now,” she said.
Kirsten says she feels privileged to help shape a new generation of children and she has no misgivings about the path she chose.
“I don’t regret leaving school because there are other options out there. You’ve just got to find a career or something you really want to do and strive to succeed, and do it because you love it not because you have to."
Even before she was a teenager Rachael Walther had an eye on a career in beauty, and her mum, sister and friends had to grin and bear it.
“I’ve been fond of this field since I was about 12,” Rachael said. “Mum was always my model, along with some friends,” she added.
“It just kept snowballing from there.”
The former Emmanuel College student was introduced to the South West TAFE VETis program in Year 10 where she completed a Certificate II in Make Up and Retail. She followed in Year 11 with a Certificate III in Beauty Services and in Year 12 started her Diploma of Beauty which she completed the following year at TAFE.
Rachael has promptly turned her study success into work, starting as a beauty therapist at Logans Beach Spa Retreat in September last year just before she finished her diploma.
In addition to her certificate and diploma work, Rachael completed short courses in intimate waxing and acrylic nails through TAFE.
Her commitment to study has been as enjoyable as it was fulfilling.
“I’ve been at TAFE the whole time: I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” Rachael said. “The teachers are great. They obviously have a lot of experience and know exactly what they’re talking about. If you’re ever stuck with anything they are there to help you out. The resources at TAFE are great. As a past student I went to the Pure Academy open day and it’s just amazing.”
Rachael’s TAFE study was integral in securing a job she loves.
“It’s so rewarding,” she said. “I can do waxing, tanning, tinting, massage, facials, spa treatment; anything we offer on the menu.”
“I really enjoy massage and facials because of how appreciative clients are, but I also enjoy pedicures, manicures and waxing so I can communicate with the client and get to know them on a personal level.”
“The courses went through everything I needed for my work.”
While Rachael is happy with her job, she has other options to consider in the future including potential work in Canada or the Victorian snow fields.
“I could do anything,” she said. “The world’s my oyster.”
When he was a kid, Gus Wilson was always tinkering around with his Meccano set.
Today his `toys’ are a bit bigger as an engineering apprentice at Portland Aluminium, but he’s never lost his passion for tinkering with things.
“I’ve always been a hands-on person,” Gus says. “I had Meccano as a little kid and always enjoyed that. It just kept growing from there.”
Gus is successfully pursuing his interest as a career and after getting a solid grounding through a South West TAFE VETis engineering course.
The former Portland Secondary College graduated in 2012 and geared his education towards a career in trades.
He found out about the TAFE VETis program when it was advertised at school. “It was something I thought I would be interested in,” Gus said. “I did a lot of similar subjects at school because I was interested in that field.”
As part of his school routine, one day each week Gus attended the Portland TAFE campus for his VETis program which proved to be a valuable investment.
“I found it worthwhile,” Gus said. “It wasn’t complicated, but it was helpful in learning the right way to do things. We learnt how to use the lathe and welding and other stuff that you can’t do at home.”
Importantly his good result in the VETis course held Gus in good stead for achieving his goal of securing an apprenticeship.
Gus said the application process at Portland Aluminium was strenuous buthis VETis qualification helped. “They looked for that in the interview and asked about having those sort of pre-requisites.”
“It helped me to get my apprenticeship and then crossed off some of the units that I didn’t have to during the apprenticeship.”
Gus will complete his apprenticeship in mid-January and then expects to look for a new job, possibly in Geelong where his girlfriend is studying at university.
“The VETis course was enjoyable and it gave me a good base,” he said. “Hopefully some opportunities, maybe in fitting, will come up in Geelong.”
I don’t know how I’d cope sitting in an office all day,” he said. “I still love the hands-on stuff.”
Interested in studying Graphic Design at South West TAFE? Hear Jacob Couch talk about his course and why he loves it.
An appetite for learning has paid off for tattoo artist Luke Mason who is currently studying the Diploma of Graphic Design at South West TAFE.
“I’ve always loved drawing and art, I’ve always had a passion for it,” said Luke who works at 13 Sails Tattoo Studio in Warrnambool.
Luke has always been fascinated with tattoos, and followed in his siblings’ footsteps by getting his first tattoo at 18. Having started a Diploma of Graphic Design in Melbourne, Luke soon realised it was tattoos that occupied his thoughts.
“It was then that I asked my tattoo artist to teach me how to tattoo,” says Luke.
“I was pretty lucky he said yes, I guess it was because I showed a lot of interest, and had a lot of tattoos.”
Luke currently studies part time at South West TAFE and has been a Visual Arts student on and off for a few years.
“I’ll end up getting the full diploma in a few years,” he said.
Luke says there is a lot of technique he learns in class that he can apply to his work and vice versa.
“It all goes hand in hand, it’s really good,” said Luke `
“I studied colour theory last year and I learned a lot from that.”
While Luke says he will always tattoo, he still wants to keep on learning and better himself as an artist, eventually undertaking an arts degree and making a living off selling his artwork. Luke also hopes to get become an art teacher one day and says the course helps him build on his confidence as an artist.
“It’s a passion of mine, I always want to study,” explains Luke.
“If I start teaching in the future it means I'll always be studying.”
Reece Lane returned to Warrnambool for family reasons but along the way has found a new career.
Reece Lane is undertaking a Diploma of Graphic Design at South West TAFE which has already led to regular work with Warrnambool-based Logos Ahead.
He previously completed an Advanced Diploma of Architectural Building Design and Technology in Melbourne but returned to Warrnambool to care for his parents who were both battling serious illnesses.
He decided to mix part-time study with his caring duties.
“I enjoyed graphic design in high school and the 2D aspect of it when I did architecture,” Reece said.
“I’d always been interested in it and so while I was in Warrnambool for family reasons I decided to enrol in the course.”
The Warrnambool course compares favorably to his metropolitan study experience. “It’s pretty good,” Reece said. “The facilities are top notch and the teachers are very helpful,” Reece said.
“It stacks up probably even better than Melbourne.”
The casual work at Logos Ahead has come at an opportune time for Reece, 25.
“I got the job opportunity because of TAFE; not only from the course but because the teachers recommended me,” he said.
“The first four or five weeks were pretty much full time; now it’s usually two days a week while I complete my study.”
Reece is completing his study part-time.
He said the course had prepared him well for working in the design field. “When I was doing architecture and building design what was expected in work placements wasn’t necessarily what was being taught in the course,” he said. “In the graphic design course it’s very close to the skills the industry wants.”
South West TAFE design coordinator Andrea Radley recommended Reece for the work.
“Logos Ahead contacted us to see if we had any potential employees and we suggested Reece,” Ms Radley said.
“He works quickly and effectively and produces good quality work and has shown through the course that he works well with clients.”
Tourism and event management industries are fast growing areas in Australia and beyond. Our qualifications are driven by industry demand for employees with practical, relevant skills ready to hit the ground running.
Childcare courses are hands on with a focus on student placement. With Australia in the middle of a baby boom, there is no better time to study and gain employment in this area. Find out more about our Children Services programs here
Alex completed a Diploma of Conservation & Land Management in 2014. With a passion for the environment Alex is now employed at Parks Victoria in Bacchus Marsh.
Every time Cody McConnell finds a new head of hair in front of her she finds a new way to be creative with it.
It’s that scope for creativity and constant array of new challenges that Cody likes most about hairdressing.
"I love the career that I’m in because I love the creativity that comes with it,” she said. “New ways and techniques are always coming through which means I never stop learning.”
Cody, 18, has already learnt a lot along the way after starting her hairdressing study through a South West TAFE VETiS program while at Emmanuel College.
She completed her Certificate II in Hairdressing and is continuing her training at South West TAFE with a Certificate III program this year while working for Red Studio in Warrnambool.
Studying at TAFE has been a stimulating experience for Cody and one that prepared her well for the workforce.
“I love the adult learning environment,” she said. “The teachers just want you to do the best that you can do. They showed me lots of different ways to do the same technique while finding what feels comfortable for me.”
South West TAFE was also the most convenient and close-to-home training option for the Warrnambool resident.
Cody directly attributes her success in finding work to the TAFE course and says her training has helped a lot in her role. “It also allows me to help the other girls,” she added.
Cody plans to continue training and hopes one day to open her own business.
And she encourages others to follow their dream. “Just give it a go. TAFE offers so many different pathways and opportunities.”
Choosing a career in childcare and studying at South West TAFE were easy decisions for Warrnambool's Lori Clark.
Lori, 19, began a Certificate III in Children's Services this year, and is enjoying learning about children and their various stages of development. "I've always wanted to work in childcare since I was in primary school".
Lori was exposed to children from a young age, babysitting and helping family members and friends who had young children whenever she had the chance. "I've always been around little kids".
South West TAFE was Lori's first option and she's gaining knowledge and practical experience in the one year course. "I like the way we are given the opportunity to put what we learn into practise with the prac days and with placement".
The subjects she is studying are relevant to her future career. "It's what you want to learn. You don't have to sit in classes that you aren't interested in".
Lori gained real-life experience at a recent two week placement at Sherwood Park Childcare Centre, feeding babies and changing their nappies. "Some of the things that you have to do are a lot to different to how you‘d do them if you were just babysitting," she said.
Lori was able to remain in Warrnambool and live at home while pursuing her chosen career. "I am really enjoying my course. I have met some great new friends. The teachers we have are great and really easy to get along with. They're all really good, and helpful, and they know a lot".
Lori recommends South West TAFE to others who want to work in childcare. "I am hoping to go and work in a childcare centre but I would also like to study my Diploma and maybe one day go on and do my Bachelor of Early Childhood Education," Lori enthused.
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Our nursing students undertake part of their studies in our simulated nursing labs, fully equipped with hospital beds, mannequins, showering facilities and lifting equipment. This along with clinical placements enables students to be job ready upon graduation. Listen to what our graduates have to say.
Shacara Myers likes to share her love of all things beautiful.
“I’ve always loved beauty and just being able to make people feel good, whether it’s how they look or how they feel,” Ms Byers, 19, said.
The 2014 South West TAFE Diploma of Beauty Therapy graduate has had long-term plans for working in the field and has already turned her love for beauty into a career.
Ms Byers started studying with South West TAFE through the VETIS program while at secondary school and was able to progress from that sound base. “The TAFE course allowed me to finish my qualification. It was convenient for me and close to home, which meant I didn’t have to move away from my family,” she said.
Her study prepared her well and even before finishing the course in 2014, Ms Byers found work with Endota Day Spa in Warrnambool.
“The training at TAFE in the VERDE Salon ensured I was prepared and confident to enter the workforce,” Ms Byers said.
“I really enjoyed the practical aspect of the course. It made the year easier not having to do just theory,” she said.
“We got to receive all the treatments ourselves from other students in the class, which was very beneficial. Being able to experience the treatments meant we could apply our skills in the workforce.”
The students also received kits so they could practice at home.
Ms Byers hopes to do more beauty-related courses in the future to increase her skills, but for the time being she’s happy to be working and sharing her love for beauty.
“It’s good to put in all the hard work because you’re only going to get out what you put in.”
South West TAFE is offering a mid-year Diploma of Beauty Therapy starting in July. An information session will be held on June 2.
Tahlyshia Potts hoped to open some doorways into different careers when she enrolled in a South West TAFE course.
Instead the Warrnambool teenager has opened her eyes on a “whole new world”.
Ms Potts this year started the Certificate IV in Travel, Tourism and Events at South West TAFE. She thought the course would be in as good environment and open up a variety of career options but Ms Potts has been pleasantly surprised by what she’s found.
“”I’ve only been here since the start of the year but it feels like it’s opened my eyes to a whole new world,” she said.
“Every part of the course is so interesting that it doesn’t even feel like you’re studying. It’s an amazing course and the teachers are fantastic. It makes me want to learn more and achieve my best.”
It has been a major turnaround for Ms Potts who admits she wasn’t happy and not doing well at school.
“Now I’m getting top marks and couldn’t be happier,” she said. “I feel like it’s all going towards something big.”
Ms Potts will get the first taste of working in the tourism field after being accepted into a placement at Dreamworld in September.
“I can see my training helping me in communication skills, enthusiasm and knowledge,” she said.
Ms Potts previously achieved her Certificate II in Retail Make-up and Skincare through South West TAFE.
After having such a positive experience, Ms Potts is encouraging others to follow in her footsteps. “”Don’t be scared about it,” she said. “Don’t not make the step just because it’s something different.”
Her priority now is to finish her course “and go wherever it takes me”.
For Ms Potts that could be anywhere in the world.
What better way to learn about farming in the south-west, than from experienced farmers who have worked on the land themselves.
This was the real life experience that South West TAFE student Melissa Brewer was privy to, when she studied a Diploma of Agriculture/Agronomy.
Melissa, 21, has always been interested in the agriculture industry and chose South West TAFE because the Diplomas covered a broad range of topics.
She said one of the best things was the local knowledge her teachers had about the area, and the industry because they had worked in it themselves. They were able to give the students real life examples and farming techniques they had used on their own farms, which she found valuable.
Melissa said the Diplomas provided her with a good grounding in a number of fields and increased her knowledge of animal health, genetics and business management.
During her two and a half years studying with South West TAFE, Melissa said she learnt about everything from animal health and welfare to feed management, soils and finance.
“It was really good, it had a bit of everything that I wanted to learn about, and then if you wanted to know more you just had to ask your teacher and they would tell you”.
She said the other students were nice and they shared similar interests.
“The teachers and staff were easy to get along with. They were all extremely helpful and took interest in what you wanted to learn as an individual,” she said.
Melissa described the course as being very hands on and she often recalled the lessons learned at TAFE in her current roles at Cobden Artificial Breeders, where she has worked for the past eight months, and as a relief milker.
Melissa said anyone with an interest in the agriculture industry would benefit from studying a South West TAFE Diploma and she would highly recommend it to others.
Jacki McKay wanted to broaden her knowledge and improve her future employability when she enroled in the Diploma of Conservation and Land Management at South West TAFE.
Ms McKay returned to study the diploma after 20 years and the busy mum said she could not have studied the nationally-recognised diploma without its flexible delivery, which enabled her to work full time and balance family commitments.
The diploma includes online theory and one practical field workshop a month at various south-west sites where students hear from specialists in areas including catchment and land management; biodiversity; biological surveying; fauna management; erosion control; pest animal control; plant control and re-vegetation.
“It was really good because I could do it when I could fit it in. I could work around it and fit it in when I could, as opposed to taking time off work to sit in classes. It’s a great way to be able further your education and get different skills without having to give everything else up as well”.
Ms McKay said the diploma improved her knowledge and confidence in a supportive environment and she could email her teacher anytime to ask questions.
She also enjoyed the hands-on workshops and working with industry professionals.
“They were all really good and had really good stories to back up the information they were giving you to make it more interesting. You learn more when you hear the stories associated with it, rather than just being told information.
“The workshops we did were really good and practical, you actually got to go out and that then helped you do your assignments because you’d gone through it at the workshops,” Ms McKay said.
Ms McKay completed the diploma in November 2012 and works for the Department of Environment and Primary Industries in a business management role. She hopes to gain a forest management role in the future.
“I’m glad I have it and I know it’s something I’ll use in the future. Whether that’s in employment or working for some volunteer organisations I think it will be handy. I’m really glad I did it”.
Ms McKay is now considering further study.
“I’ve also looked into going to get a degree in Environmental Science. I left school early when I was younger and this is my way of playing catch up. This has given me enough knowledge to go and do a degree now.”
“I loved it and I learnt a lot,” Ms McKay said.