Head start in life with a training certificate in VET or Trade

Every weekend I look forward to being in the kitchen and cooking something that warms the heart. I have always thought that if I wasn’t a teacher/principal then I would be a cook/chef. With the cold snap hitting Adelaide there is nothing better than a meal of smoky bacon and pea soup coupled with crusty homemade bread. My skills in the kitchen were handed down to me by my father who was an amazing cook. His passion was food and his recipes were all in his head. Luckily, I did get many recipes down on paper. I enjoy the creative parts of cooking and of course the partaking of the meal with the family at dinner time.

In this weekend’s media, there was a noticeable absence of any critical editorial on schooling or education in general. The major announcement was the establishment of a national Skills Council to drive vocational education reform and to deliver a plan to overhaul the VET sector. This was supported by all state and the federal governments. Reform is needed in areas to address the skills shortage and our ailing training system which needs to be more agile and responsive to the current state of our industry and future work. The Grattan Institute recently released a report which found that the earning capacity of many young Australians would be significantly higher if they learned a trade instead of going to university. Whilst this is a generalisation, it rings true in some instances. Our federal government is also seeking to improve the status of TAFE on par with Universities in the delivery of VET. I am aware that a number of universities are already broadening their scope to embrace this new direction for higher education.

At our Cardijn campus about 70 students are enrolled in various VET courses at certificate II or III. Courses range from Music Industry at Cardijn to Hair and Beauty, Early Childhood Learning, Personal Care and Health, Automotive, Electrical, Construction and Engineering at our Marcellin campus. Next year Cardijn College will introduce Kitchen Operations as part of Food and Hospitality, Sport and Recreation and Fitness as new courses. It is our aspiration that more courses will come into scope at both Cardijn and Marcellin for students in the next few years. These training courses can be completed alongside the SACE certificate. Students can either complete these training courses as part of a pathway to university, TAFE pathway, apprenticeship or work. Marcellin Campus offers a senior school experience which is different to mainstream schools. Students have a tailored SACE program and training including further skills development and workplace practices. Work placement is a significant part of the program each term. By 2025, the aspiration for Cardijn College is that every student not only graduates with their SACE but also a certificate in training. The value of a certificate in training is that many young people will enter the workforce in the first instance in a casual or temporary role and usually in a part-time capacity. Many students who are studying at university are seeking part-time work. Any qualifications and experience will therefore be an asset to an employer seeking graduates from Cardijn College.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

1 comment on “Head start in life with a training certificate in VET or Trade

  1. Every word so true. Well done Paul in being abreast of the needs of today’s youth. There are many teachers out here who care and have the same outlook as you but need leaders like you to implement change. Once again well done.


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