It all started with a chance encounter at just 16 years of age. Bethany Simpson was working part-time at the restaurant in the motor inn her parents owned in Mildura when a customer asked a simple question: ‘Do you know about Australian School-based Apprenticeships?’
Bethany had no idea what an ASbA was, but it didn’t take long for her to find out and enrol in a Certificate III in Business Administration with Murray Mallee Training Company just before beginning Year 11.
It was the best decision ever and Bethany hasn’t looked back.
‘I was already handling many of the responsibilities required for the Certificate III while working in my parent’s business,’ says Bethany. ‘Enrolling in an ASbA formalised everything and quickly took me to the next level.’
Bethany flourished and went on to win the 2017 Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year Award at the Australian Training Awards.
‘As soon as I got back from the awards I had a multitude of companies asking me to work for them. With my savings, I’d put a deposit on a block of land, planning to build as soon as I turn 18,’ says Bethany. ‘I wanted to stay in Mildura, so I accepted a position with Sunraysia & Murray Group Training (SMGT).’
At SMGT—a community based organisation aiming to maximise local employment opportunities and the quality of training for local people—Bethany works as a junior consultant recruiting people into apprenticeships and traineeships. ‘I help place them in the right spot,’ says Bethany.
Through Year 11, Bethany excelled in Business Management, a Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) subject, thanks to the qualifications and knowledge she developed through her ASbA. She finished the year with excellent grades and was accepted into the La Trobe University’s VCE Plus program. Bethany completed a couple of subjects on campus while finishing Year 12 and still working through her training.
‘Undertaking an ASbA was definitely a smart choice to do alongside years 11 and 12,’ says Bethany. ‘Every Year 12 student gets a certificate, but I’ve come out with a qualification as well, which means I’ll be better off in the long run. I already have experience, employability skills and employable qualifications, which gives me a competitive edge for getting a job. Vocational education and training (VET) also allowed me to test a career pathway before committing to university.’
Having graduated, Bethany will continue with her fulfilling position at SMGT and plans to study an online university business degree majoring in management starting in 2018.
‘Uni is wonderful and necessary depending on what you want to do,’ says Bethany, ‘but VET gives you hands-on experience and the confidence that you can do things well in the real world. It leads to a career, not just a job, and so is a great option.’
As an Australian VET Alumni member, one of Bethany’s goals is to be a vocal advocate for the VET system.
‘It’s a myth that VET stops you from going to uni or that it’s a lesser form of study,’ says Bethany. ‘It doesn’t lock you out and it’s important for students to know that there are many ways to succeed. I’ll apply my VET qualification right through my career. I want to advocate for the VET system to demonstrate its unique strengths.’
Bethany also wants to spread the word that there’s a great deal of support surrounding the VET system for students not yet sure what they want to do in life.
‘Group training organisations are willing to help. Schools are super helpful and so are employers,’ says Bethany. ‘There are so many avenues to get support and many people in industry happy to provide assistance.’
To find out more about how you can gain real skills for a real career through a VET qualification, visit www.myskills.gov.au
Book a VET Alumni member
To invite Bethany to share her success story at your event please contact VETAlumni@education.gov.au.