What’s the key to a real career? Kathrin Colgan says ‘vocational education and training (VET)’.
‘You study and work at the same time. The VET sector gives you a real career that is needed now and a great monetary start in life,’ says Kathrin, a Chisholm Institute Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) Educator with decades of experience.
Kathrin’s professional efforts were recognised with the 2017 Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award she received at the Australian Training Awards.
From Victoria, Kathrin began her career as a drama and dance teacher, eventually moving into a range of LLN roles where she helped Australians of all ages secure meaningful jobs in their chosen careers.
‘Completing a VET qualification isn’t just about getting a job, although it does this and quickly. It’s about the broader support it offers. You’re not a number. You’re a learner in a classroom, or online, with a teacher dedicated to providing support you might not be able to access through other educational pathways. We’re real people with real relationships with our students.’
Kathrin’s heart goes pitter patter when she thinks of what her students have achieved. She works in an area with a high number of refugees and talks fondly of one student who lived in a refugee camp for 10 years. While there he studied on his own, wanting to be a nurse, just like his mother was.
‘Although proficient in English, he didn’t understand Australian culture, so we taught him fundamental skills,’ says Kathrin. ‘He got into nursing and we nominated him for the Vocational Student of the Year Award. He was floored.’
Kathrin also talks fondly of the wonderful and supportive teachers she had in her early years. Their approach inspires Kathrin to adapt and be innovative in class. An early adopter of innovation in the information and communication technology space,
Kathrin now supports her peers to explore 21st century teaching approaches.
‘VET is perfect for all kinds of pathways for all students,’ says Kathrin. ‘It provides scope to think about options and a way to access jobs at entry level. Students can then return to VET to build skills further. We see this all the time.’
‘There’s no reason to fear VET,’ says Kathrin. ‘I say go for it. It can be life changing. My philosophy is that you need to say yes to learn. Nothing bad comes out of trying.’
As an Australian VET Alumni member, Kathrin looks forward to interacting with like-minded people on how to further support VET. ‘It’s important to get the message out to potential students that VET provides career opportunities beyond what they could ever imagine,’ she says.