CDU and industry partners give taste of trades in the Territory 

Katherine High School students with skill coaches Byron and Simon from Beare Homes

Kormilda College and Katherine High School students try painting

Year nine students from across the Northern Territory have been exposed to the many trade careers via an innovative one-day taster program, Try-A-Trade.

Held in Alice Springs and Darwin, Try-A-Trade provided the students with half hour hands-on introductions to trades careers and is supported by Charles Darwin University, training providers and industry, including the Department of Education, Employment, and Training, Group Training NT, The Territory Construction Association, Peter Kittles Motor Cars and other businesses from throughout the Territory.

Students from Darwin, Palmerston, and the Darwin rural areas attended the program at the Cyprus Community Centre in Darwin last week following a similar program at the Alice Springs campus in late September.

Industry representatives, CDU lecturers and staff provided career snapshots of nearly all trades including electrical, butchery, hospitality, construction, carpentry, hair-dressing and childcare industries.

The Minister for Education, Employment and Training, Mr Paul Henderson, officially opened the Darwin event. He said the NT Government supported initiatives to help young Territorians realise the opportunities in trades careers.

‘I personally hope that students participating would be inspired to stay at school and work hard to achieve their career goals,’ he said.

The Alice Springs workshop started with an informal industry breakfast and presentation by the NT Minister for Business and Economic Development, Mr Con Vatskalis, who said Try-A-Trade addressed the skills shortages of the Northern Territory by demonstrating trade careers.

‘An example is the $700 million being injected into the Northern Territory to build new houses and someone has to build them,’ he said. ‘Open days like these show students that trades jobs aren’t just to make money, but are real careers.’

Lyle Mellors, senior adviser to VET programs, said the day brought industry and education together to solve the skills shortages.

'Industries are working together to open the minds of students and give them confidence in deciding future VET studies,' he said. 'And industry realises the need to inspire students from an early age.’

Jenny Mostran, regional industry career adviser for the Chamber of Commerce, Northern Territory said the activity was valuable for parents.

'They can see first hand the significant industry changes since their studies and this course helps their children on their pathways to a fulfilling career,' she said.

Coralie Boyd, YouthTraX GTNT Manager agreed with Ms Mostran.

‘The ‘hands-on’ experience of various trades helps them to make better choices about the subjects chosen in the senior years at school,’ she said. ‘It also contributes to them making a successful transition to employment.’

Teachers from both sessions were very supportive of the concept.

Mrs Leslie Tillbrook, career adviser at St Philips College Alice Springs, said the students enjoyed themselves and were keen to return to CDU.

‘The day was really successful for us and our students clearly enjoyed themselves,’ she said.

Ms Trish Orr, a teacher at Nightcliff Middle School in Darwin, said the day provided a real opportunity for students to gain specific hands-on trade experience.

‘This is a very important event for students, enabling them to have the ability to make informed choices prior to commencing their year 10 studies,’ she said.

Trisha Kohlweg, CDU secondary school liaison officer, said the event was growing in size and popularity each year.

Try-A-Trade is based on a program developed by WorkSkills Australia, a not-for-profit organisation promoting vocational trade excellence through strong community, industry and government networks.