What does National Skills Week mean to you?

At a time of significant staff shortage and challenges in the early childhood sector, it is worth pausing to recognise the substantial contribution of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector. Every day, across Australia, hundreds of students under their trainer and assessor’s guidance are working towards Certificate III and Diploma qualifications.  

The image was sourced from iStock.

Some of these students are already employed in services as the numbers of trainees grow. Others are simultaneously nearing completion under the previous training package as Registered Training Organisations (RTO), and TAFEs begin to bring the new training package to life. Our Early Childhood Trainees and VET students are critical to the sector’s future, and it is at our peril for us to fail to recognise that without them (and Early Childhood Trainers and Assessors), the future of our profession is less secure.  

National Skills Week offers our sector an opportunity to celebrate and promote the contribution students and the people who support them to complete their qualifications make. Now moving into its twelfth year, National Skills Week will again set out to bring to life the positive messages, highlighting the talents, the skills, the career pathways and the value of apprentices and trainees across Australia to the wider public and employers. The week is dedicated to raising the status of practical and vocational learning. 

What can we do to illuminate our positivity about the talent, skills and career pathways of our students and trainees and the dedicated trainers and assessors who support them?   

Here are a couple of ideas to get you started. We would love to hear more. 

  • If you have a VET student or trainee in your service, use this week to highlight them and their contribution to the service. 
  • Use your social media platforms to talk about what your students are studying and how their training contributes to children’s learning and development.  
  • If you don’t yet have a student or trainee as part of your team, use this week to connect with a local RTO and register your interest in attracting a student.  
  • Talk to your team about the role of students and trainees in your service or organisation.   

Consider the following questions:  

  • What are your ethical obligations to students and trainees? 
  • How do you support and encourage beginning professionals? 
  • How do you welcome and celebrate their unique contributions?  
  • Plan and commit to a workplace strategy to regularly include students and trainees at your service. 
  • Take a moment to reach out to the trainers at your local TAFE or RTO and invite them to your service for a conversation about what they offer and how you can work together to deliver better student outcomes. Not only will this address any misconceptions, but it will also build a better understanding of how competency-based training works and the assessment process. 
  • Build on these connections to plan collaborations, joint projects or initiatives with students and teachers from TAFEs or RTOs, for example, NAIDOC Week celebrations – these collaborations benefit everyone.    
  • Encourage exemplary educators to take a leap and become trainers and assessors themselves. These roles make an incredible impact on the lives of our beginning educators.   

Want to know more? Check out the National Skills Week.


Catharine Hydon

Catharine Hydon is the Director and Principal Consultant at Hydon Consulting. Over the last 10 years Catharine worked with a range of organisations and governments to understand and articulate quality and inspire change. With a Masters in early childhood education, Catharine has extensive experience in the early childhood sector beginning as a teacher in a kindergarten program in the northern suburbs of Melbourne to lead roles in a range of services and projects.  Catharine draws on her experience and ongoing practice research to consider how theory connects and informs practice.  Specialising in early childhood practice and pedagogy, quality improvement, policy and governance, the delivery of integrated services to engage vulnerable children and their families.  Catharine’s involvement in the early childhood sector is an important part of her commitment to the outcomes for children.  She is a long-time member of Early Childhood Australia (ECA) and has just concluded her role as the Co-chair of the Reconciliation Advisory Group and is a regular contributor in ECA publications. Catharine has been a member of the ECA Code of Ethics working group for the last two reviews and is a co-author on the recently published Ethics in Action Implementation guide. Catharine is a dynamic speaker and collaborative facilitator and is skilled at engaging professionals in reflective dialogue and creative conversations.   

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