Bush kids give trades taster the thumbs up 

CDU mechanic Cliff Glover shows Papunya School student Nicole Stevens car engine basics

Many students from the far reaches of Central Australia are now more familiar with vocational careers thanks to a recent one-day trades taster in Alice Springs.

More than 60 students from 10 communities made the often long journey to attend Try-a-Trade, an annual event hosted by Charles Darwin University (CDU) and backed by local industry to allow students to sample a range of trades.

They were kept busy planting seedlings, developing multimedia and tuning engines, welding, cooking and changing tyres, among many other activities.

This was the first time bush students have experienced try-a-trade, now expanded over two days to cater for both regional and metropolitan students.

A joint initiative of Career Advice Australia, the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Education and Training, Group Training and Charles Darwin University, Try-a-Trade has been established as a leading trades taster expo in the region, conducted across CDU campuses in Alice Springs, Casuarina and Palmerston.

An Alice Springs-based senior VET advisor, Lyle Mellors said vocational training was an excellent pathway for many young people.

“It’s great to see the local community get behind this event because we all realise the need to inspire young people to learn and give them as much assistance as possible,” he said.

“We are delighted to see so many regional schools and their communities make the big effort to attend this day and to help the future generation seek out exciting careers in trades.”

Alpurrurulam Community School support officer, Irene Toby said the 14-hour round trip was worth it for her students.

“The girls have enjoyed it so far, learning about the different trades and they really liked hearing about the health training,” she said.

Her comments were echoed by CDU Indigenous Liaison Officer Lorraine St Clair, who said the day provided a great opportunity for her to meet remote students and staff.

“It was very beneficial to provide them with information about the programs and assistance offered by the Indigenous Academic Support Unit,” she said.