A head-start thanks to school-based traineeships


​​Assistant nurses in training Shairon Eremugo (left) and Rory Jones​

In the past, nursing, tourism and hospitality, electrical, and automotive technicians were jobs you usually gained post-school after studying at TAFE or university and getting an apprenticeship. 
Today, with the growing number of vocational education and training (VET) courses on offer in Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) colleges and close industry connections for traineeshipssenior students can get head-start on their dream careers while studying for their Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). 
St Francis College, Crestmead Year 11 students, Rory Jones and Shairon Eremugohave forged a roadmap to fast track their careers in nursing by balancing their QCE senior studies with a VET course towards Certificate III in Health Services Assistance alongside a paid school-based traineeship through OSMAC Apprenticeships. 
“It’s challenging and I’m really enjoying it,” said Rory, who was one of only eight trainees to be awarded paid school-based Assistant in Nursing (AIN) Traineeship in aged careThe traineeship includes a one-day-a-week work placement at Vacenti Aged Care Services at Marebello 
“It’s given me an idea of what working in aged care will be like. Now I am really interested in pursuing work in this area which really surprised me as I was initially interested in working in midwifery,” she said. 
Similarly, Shairon, who secured a paid AIN traineeship with Metro South Health at Logan Hospital, has found a path more appealing and accessible to her to forge a career as a registered nurse.  ​
“I get to work in the rehabilitation wardlearn from a registered nurse and care for real patients,” said Shairon 
“I assist patients with dressing and personal hygiene, feeding, recording fluid and meal intakes, with mobility and how to safely use hoists.”  
The chance to experience what it was like to work in a hospital, as well as being inspired by watching numerous medical documentaries and admiring the way that her parents and other family members work in social services caring for others, helped Shairon decide to pursue a career in nursing and accelerate her studies towards becoming a registered nurse 
The annual school-based AIN traineeship program as part of the Metro South Health, Logan and Beaudesert Health Service, is one of the most coveted nursing traineeships of its kind in Queensland attracting over 100 applications each year. 
According to Adam Stephen, Care Manager for OSMAC Apprenticeshipsthe recruitment process is both competitive and challenging and only the very best students make it through to final round”.  
Shairon was one of 12 trainees appointed this year, and she is very deserving of it,” Mr Stephen said.  
She continues to grow in the job with every week.  
Despite the year being heavily impacted by COVID, Shairon’s calm demeanour and the ability to produce quality work under pressure was underpinned by the skills and knowledge received in her course at St Francis College,” he added. 
Students from St Francis who choose to pursue a health qualification can begin their skills training within the College’s health training facilityknown as the Health Hub, before they apply for traineeships. 
Sheree Senyard, St Francis’ Health Hub Trainer, runs combined theoretical and simulation-based practical classes each week to give students who don’t gain traineeships the opportunity to learn hands-on skills like patient health checks. 
Ms Senyard says that the students are also exposed to medical professionals like registered nurse educators, speech pathologists and disability carers as part of the training which helps open doors to traineeships and eventual employment when they graduate. 
Rory and Shairon are among three students this year to secure school-based paid traineeships,” she said. “This year we had our first Year 12 student graduate as an Assistant in Nursing. Sara Anthony is the first student from St Francis to graduate from the traineeship and gain employment at Opal Nursing Home.  
It makes vocational education and training an enriching experience, and further TAFE or university studies a breeze,” she added. 
The range of VET courses offered at St Francis College, which includes Health, Hospitality, Kitchen Operations and Community Services, are very popular with 80% of senior students completing studies towards at least one qualification according to the College’s Pathways Program Leader Rebecca Masciantonio.  
“This year more than 66 students from Years 10, 11 and 12 completed a certificate course, and 35 more students completed qualifications off-campus at TAFE or another registered training organisation,” Ms Masciantonio said. 
“It’s a great opportunity to explore different careers paths and subject options to help you progress towards your career and where you want to go. 
All BCE colleges have provisions for students to explore a wide range of VET pathways. BCE’s Education Officer for VET and Vocational Learning, Dr Therese Nolan, says that courses of study that include VET subjects are equal in every way to other learning pathways.  
“BCE is committed to ensuring students transition successfully to adulthood. Vocational education training qualifications are highly sought after by employers during this national skills shortage and all our colleges are dedicated to supporting the individual pathways that students select.” 
Dr Nolan says that vocational qualifications and practical skills are highly valued by employers and provide a great pathway into university, should that be a consideration down the track. 
“There’s more to being a good worker than just having qualifications; attitudes and ethics are just as important as skills. Attributes such as enthusiasm, honesty, self-esteem, loyalty, commitment, good communication, problem-solving and even a sense of humour are skills highly valued by employers and these are the qualities that our BCE colleges develop in their students.” 
Dr Nolan says that there are now more than 2,220 students (66%) across Brisbane Catholic Education graduating with a VET qualification which represents a seven per cent increase from the previous year. Of the group who graduated with a VET qualification, eight per cent had a Diploma qualification. 
“Schools are certainly different places than what they once were, and it is the students who are the big winners from this change,” she said. 

What are VET courses?  

Students can select VET subjects as part of a regular pattern of senior study. Students taking this option have the chance to get their QCE, and depending on the number of VET subjects they select, they can be eligible for an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). The ATAR a student receives determines which university courses he/she is eligible to apply for. 
Like other subjects, VET courses are accredited by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, and count towards a student’s QCE. However, they also have some characteristics that make them different from the other subjects.  
VET courses: 
  • are based on national training packages that are designed to meet industry training needs 
  • lead to the achievement of nationally recognised qualifications  
  • provide opportunities for practical, work-based learning  
  • are written and assessed in “competency-based” terms. 

What VET courses are available in BCE colleges?  

Every BCE college offers a varying range of VET courses. Some colleges have trade training centres on campus to provide practical skills and training. The courses include: 
  • Certificate I - III in Business 
  • Certificate I/ II in Kitchen Operations 
  • Certificate I - III in Hospitality  
  •  Certificate II in Health Support Services 
  • Certificate III in Health Services Assistances/Community Services 
  • Certificate II Engineering Pathways & Certificate I Construction 
  • Certificate III Sport & Recreation (Coaching) 
Students also have access to all TAFE @ School subjects and trade taster programs at TAFE Qld campuses. 

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