Over 140 of Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) Alumni, including AFL great Kevin Sheedy AM, former and current NRL players Alan Tongue, Andrew Ryan and Bronson Harrison and reality television stars Luke and Cody Cook from Channel Seven’s House Rules — to name but a few— gathered in Canberra for the inaugural National VET Alumni Information Workshop on 26 and 27 November to enhance their roles as ambassadors and advocates for VET and Australian Apprenticeships.
With shared master of ceremonies roles by iconic radio host, Tim Shaw and four-time Walkley Award winner and political journalist Paul Bongiorno AM, the workshop provided the Alumni with the opportunity to learn more about the direction and key messages of the Australian Government’s Real skills for real careers strategy as well as hear from each other’s own inspirational stories, gain media and presentation skills and workshop ideas to build an even stronger VET Alumni program.
Retired professional NRL player, Alan Tongue, said his hope for the VET Alumni was to “put apprenticeships and VET on a level playing field with university”. VET graduate of engineering and Alumni member, Mel Jeffrey (nee Lethbridge) shared “I've had so many opportunities through my VET qualification. I’m proud to say I have a career, not a job. And my opportunities just keep getting better.”
The Australian Cricket Team’s best spin-bowler, former grounds curator and VET Alumni member Nathan Lyon could not make the event because of the Ashes Test against England in Brisbane, but sent a warm acknowledgement via video to his fellow VET Alumni members.
“My Apprenticeship was the best time of my life. Hopefully, all together, we can promote the importance of Australian Apprenticeships all around the country. Enjoy the workshop, and I hope to see you at the next event,” Mr Lyon said.
Australian media veteran Paul Bongiorno facilitated a panel discussion with journalists from large media organisations who offered media tips and tricks to assist our VET Alumni to effectively pitch their career stories to their local media and tell their story to inspire others.
Former AFL player, Essendon Head Coach and Greater Western Sydney Giants Head Coach, and passionate Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador and VET Alumni member Kevin Sheedy AM closed the proceedings with an inspiring address focusing on the importance of having a skilled workforce across a broad range of industries. Mr Sheedy spoke of the importance of VET’s contribution to building the country we live in now – and will live in the future.
Mr Sheedy also acknowledged the VET Alumni and the vital role it plays as a movement in Australia to spread the message to all Australians, particularly the next generation, that VET, and Australian Apprenticeships, is a personally, professionally and financially rewarding career choice – and just as prized as a university degree.
“I want you to pass your energy and your thinking about VET and apprenticeships onto others, that is what will help us build a great country.
“The world coming at us will need a different skill set. It’s a big challenge, but if you are passionate about something, you’ll make people listen. I believe in you.” Mr Sheedy said.