During his 20-year engineering career, Paul Hunton never imagined he would one day become a teacher.
His career included stints in uranium and coal mines, on the Alice to Darwin Rail Link, and time working on wharves. Now the Federation TAFE Engineering teacher can’t imagine doing anything else.
“It's a career I fell into after having a workplace accident. While recovering from my injuries I was put in the workshop with all the apprentices. My supervisor noticed I had an ability to get them to work and learn better so offered to pay for my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE) as part of my rehabilitation. That's how I got started and branched out into teaching.”
Vocational Education and Training (VET) teachers like Paul are crucial in training an agile workforce, meeting skills shortages and supporting the economy. To become a VET teacher, you must have current industry expertise in the field in which you’ll be teaching and complete a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40116). Paul upgraded his original TAE through Federation TAFE and found it a positive experience.
“While I was working as a Learning Development Coordinator for the Country Fire Authority, the TA update came around. We had to organise all staff to get updated and found Federation TAFE the easiest to deal with. They were extremely professional, really organised, and just made the whole process, which was a lot of work, really simple. We did a fairly intensive two-week block but the content was delivered in a way that you could absorb it and understand what you were doing. It was really well done.”
Paul has now taken up a teaching role with Federation TAFE and delivers the Certificate II in Engineering Studies, Certificate III in Engineering - Fabrication Trade, as well as Basic Technical Training (BTT) for wind turbine technicians at Ballarat and Horsham locations, travelling to the Wimmera two days a week to do so.
With VET and Registered Training Organisations across the board affected by a shortage of teachers and trainers, his traveling to teach highlights the need to increase VET provision locally in regional areas like Horsham.
A way to meet this need is to encourage industry experts in regional areas to study the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, the industry standard for the design, delivery and development of vocational education.
Federation TAFE’s manager of Skills Plan Delivery Vanessa O’Loughlin in Horsham says the first Victorian Skills Plan was released this year and recommends what is required to build and align skill delivery to meet the needs of the current and future economy. She says alongside this, the Victorian Skills Authority worked with a taskforce for the Wimmera and Southern Mallee to look specifically at the needs of the region.
“There is a state shortage of trainers with many having to travel into our region to help maintain delivery. In order for us to provide quality training locally and cost effectively we need to identify and train trade qualified individuals from our region – for Federation TAFE, and other local training organisations. Our delivering the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment is necessary for short and long-term success in meeting the needs outlined in the Victorian Skills Plan,” she said.
To anyone thinking of becoming a VET teacher or trainer, Paul says: “I really enjoy teaching. You’re not on the tools all the time. You're a little bit like your own boss. You get more freedom and the reward of seeing student’s progress. It's a good feeling. And, you know, 20 years ago that’s exactly where I was. You just don't know which path you might end up going down. My students could end up coming in here and being a teacher as well in a few years’ time.”
If you are aspiring to lead, mentor and teach through Vocational Education and Training, please come along to hear about the course, trainer experiences, and have your questions answered at the Lead, Mentor, Teach: Become a VET Trainer Wimmera information session
When: 5:15pm, Tuesday 17 January, 2023
Where: Federation TAFE, Wimmera Campus, Baillie Street, Horsham
The Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40116) is the industry standard for the design, delivery and development of vocational education. Rural and regional students will have supported access to undertake the qualification through online delivery.
*This qualification is supported by the Victorian Government’s Free TAFE program for eligible participants.