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Caitlin Whittle was named the Australian School Based Apprentice of the Year at a gala reception in Sydney.

Whittle aims to remove stigma after National VET award

The last time Echo News spoke to Swan Valley Anglican Community School student Caitlin Whittle, she said she was surprised and excited to be named the WA School Based Apprentice of the Year.

That excitement has now gone up a level, with Caitlin officially named the Australian School Based Apprentice of the Year at the 25th annual Australian Training Awards during a gala function in Sydney on November 16.

Caitlin, who incredibly juggled five ATAR subjects as well as completing a Certificate III in Hospitality, said she wasn’t intimidated by the moment. 

“I wasn’t intimidated by the occasion, I mean I was thankful just to be there and meet not only people like Senator Cash but also the other finalists, their stories were awe inspiring,” she said.

“I met all  the other finalists earlier in the week and it was pretty clear anyone could have won it. 

“I didn’t think I’d even come close so to win it was so surprising. 

“I felt that way in the State Awards as well but this was just at a different level.

“It’s such a privilege and I’m so thankful.”

The future looks bright for Caitlin, as she decides between enrolling in a Para-Medicine degree or embarking on a future in hospitality, but for the moment she has focussed on becoming an ambassador for the Vocational and Educational Training stream of education.

“There is that stigma when it comes to VET, and having been in both streams, I feel like I learned so much more in my two years of VET. 

“It’s real-life training, so the skills you learn aren’t theoretical, they’re practical skills that you will use once you enter the workforce, skills around communication, management, dealing with stressful situations, a whole range of things.

“When you go to a primarily academic-based school, VET is seen as being an option for people who weren’t smart enough or committed enough to make it in the ATAR system and that’s just so far off the mark, it’s not true at all.

“I’m looking forward to becoming an advocate for the VET system, so I’m planning to go to schools and speak to other students about the benefits of VET courses and I’m also looking to promote it as an option in schools that currently don’t offer VET courses.”

By Liam Ducey

About Liam Ducey

Liam Ducey is an experienced journalist, having worked in print media in Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Port Hedland, Bunbury and across the metropolitan area, as well as online for several Fairfax Media mastheads. His reporting has seen him awarded the 2013 Clubs WA award for Best Club Media Story and the Western Australian Football Commission Umpiring Media Award in 2014. He was a finalist in three categories in the 2018 WA Media Awards and is not at all salty that he didn't win at least one. He's recently had a baby girl, Emilia, with his wife Roselyn and has lost all concept of time and sleep.

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