Vocational Student of the Year

The Vocational Student of the Year Award recognises outstanding achievement by a vocational student in a course of study leading to a nationally recognised qualification. State or territory training award winners of this category are automatically finalists for the Australian Training Awards and will compete at the national level.

‘Expect the unexpected’ could well be the motto for Carla Willcox, winner of the Vocational Student of the Year Award in the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

Having been a ‘stay at home Mum’ for 13 years, Carla never expected her first hesitant steps into part time work and retraining would lead to full time work, promotion and further study; never expected to end up with an enduring career she loves and is passionate about; and never expected to be a national award winner! But that’s indeed the reality for Carla and she couldn’t be happier.

"When I made the decision to re-enter the workforce and re-train I had no ambition beyond getting some part-time work. But the more I got into my studies and my work in the disability sector, the further I wanted to go never thinking I’d get this far," laughed Carla. "I was so shocked to be announced as the Vocational Student of the Year that I didn’t even have a speech prepared!"

Carla secured a place in the Certificate III in Disability and subsequent employment as a support worker with Coastal Residential Services North West Tasmania. Carla has now landed a promotion with Family Based Care in Burnie and is excited about the ‘terrific’ career path that has opened up to her.

"Winning the award has certainly given me great exposure and has helped my career, but it’s not just about me. I want to promote and advocate for my industry, and I want to be an advocate for all those other mums out there who are daunted by the thought of re-entering the workforce," said Carla.

"For someone like me the great thing about VET is its accessibility and flexibility by studying in smaller chunks and gaining certificates and diplomas along the way you build your confidence and it is much less daunting and more doable. I’m living proof that with perseverance and determination anything is possible. I’m really honoured to have at the Australian Training Awards and I plan to give everything I can in embracing it and inspiring as many others as I possibly can."