VET Taster Program gets star rating from Year 9 students 

l-r: Roxanne Donahue, Mohini Dewhirst and Samantha Reid work together to complete a deckchair as part of the VET Taster Program

The VET Taster Program in Carpentry at Charles Darwin University is sparking the imaginations of Year 9 students from Dripstone Middle School.

Last week 11 students took part in the program, completing one unit of Certificate III in Cabinet-Making. They learnt how to make a deckchair, including how to craft hand-made joints.

At the end of the week the students sat a theoretical exam to test their knowledge of the tools they used to produce the deckchair.

VET lecturer Stephen Brooks said the VET Taster Program aimed to bring together practical and theoretical learning.

“The program is not intended to produce tradespeople over night, but rather to encourage participation in traditional school disciplines such as English and mathematics by relating the practical world to the theoretical world,” he said.

Student Sean Waters, 15, is exploring his career options, and joined the program because his older brother recommended the course, having completed it two years earlier.

“Now I can have a chair of my own in my room, too,” Sean said.

Josh Kimm, 14, said he always enjoyed using his hands, and enrolled in the course because he wanted to be able to fix things at home.

Josh attributed his interest in making things to his father. “My Dad is a mechanic and working with our hands runs in the family,” he said.

Students Samantha Reid and Roxanne Donahue also became interested in woodwork because of their fathers’ influence. Samantha’s father is a tradesman, and Roxanne’s builds furniture as a hobby.

Both girls said they enjoyed being creative, and liked studying art at school. They enrolled on the woodwork course to try something new, hoping to gain a useful skill at the same time.

They said that when it came to acquiring a skill they could envisage using in the real world, the carpentry course has given them new inspiration. In the future, they would like to make a table to accompany their deckchair.

Samantha and Roxanne’s ambitions, though, are still firmly placed on a career in hospitality. They said they wanted to study hotel management so they could travel the world and have a paid job while doing it.

But for Joe Smith, 13, the VET course was a perfect opportunity to try out the curriculum, and gain some credit towards a Certificate III in Cabinet Making. Joe studies metalwork and woodwork at school, and wants to study carpentry when he graduates.