Bathurst local and Skillset Workforce Trainee Laycee Covington-Gorst has won the prestigious 2019 Trainee of the Year at the Western Training Awards Gala Night held at the Orange Ex-Services Club, last Friday.

Laycee, who completed her traineeship in December, was employed by Skillset Workforce and hosted by Devro Pty Ltd Bathurst for the 15 months of her traineeship in Certificate III in Information, Digital Media and Technology with TAFE NSW. Laycee embarked on the IT traineeship because of her genuine interest in the ever changing technology trends and the impact it has on the connection of the entire world.

After finishing her HSC, Laycee was undecided as to what career path to take but her family encouraged her to strive for success and follow her passion for technology in wherever that ended up. Laycee said, “I knew that if I pursued a career in IT, I would be skilled and secure in the future of digitalised workplaces.”

Devro HR Business Partner, Sally Russell said that Laycee has a fantastic can-do attitude and isn’t afraid to throw herself into a task. “Laycee is an inspiring young professional who has been commended for her enthusiasm, proactive attitude, professional demeanour and loyalty. Laycee is truly deserving of this prestigious award.”

Since completing her traineeship, Laycee now has a full time role as the technical resource for Devro’s IT Infrastructure in Australia and New Zealand. An amazing achievement for a newly qualified IT technician.

Laycee acknowledged the support of Skillset Workforce, Devro Pty Ltd and TAFE NSW in helping her both get a start in her career and to develop an advanced skills base for all forms of IT tasks. Laycee said, “I started a traineeship in a typically male dominated industry. I would like to thank Devro and Skillset Workforce for helping me to pursue my dream career and finding the courage to motivate other females to break the stereotypes and consider careers in the IT industry.”

Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo congratulated Laycee for this prestigious achievement. “This is a wonderful achievement for Laycee to be awarded Trainee of the Year. This award recognises her hard work and determination as a trainee. Laycee is a true ambassador for Vocational Education and Training and a great mentor for fellow trainees, especially young females, to look up to.”

Skillset Workforce had five other finalists at this year’s NSW Training Awards, including Erin Hunter (MRG Electrical Services – Bathurst) and Mark Woodhead (Western NSW Local Health District – Dubbo) for the Apprentice of the Year Award. Claire Bignell (Agriwest Rural – Parkes) as a finalist for the Trainee of the Year Award; Chenoa Endacott (TAFE NSW) won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year Award, whilst Hollie Kemp (Towri Macs Centre – Bathurst) was also a finalist in this category.

Laycee will now proceed to the next stage of the NSW Training Awards as for the 2019 Trainee of the Year Award to be held in Sydney this September.

Bathurst City Life | June 20 2019

Western Advocate | June 19 2019













Good News for Regional Unemployment Rates as Jobs Campaign Reaches Target

Good News for Regional Unemployment Rates as Jobs Campaign Reaches Target

Kym Hilliard from Skillset Workforce, Skillset general manager Jane McWilliam, Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo, Heath Wright and Cameron Gallop with Hort Enterprises managing director Craig Hort.


Skillset’s 2018/19 jobs and skills campaign “SkillForce360” has reached its target by placing 428 people into apprenticeships, employment or training across central and western NSW.

Following on from the successful 2016 and 2017 “Pledge250” jobs campaign, Skillset raised the bar to 360 with this year’s campaign focusing on skills as well as jobs.

The campaign has hit its target early, as news from the Department of Jobs and Small Business reports positive changes to unemployment rates in Central West and Far West Orana. Since January 2016, the unemployment rate has dropped from 7.2 per cent to 5.5 per cent in the Central West. The Far West Orana regions are experiencing even lower rates of total unemployment. Since January 2017, the unemployment rate has decreased from 5.5 per cent to 2.9 per cent.

The national unemployment rate currently sits at 4.9 per cent and despite this encouraging statistic, youth unemployment remains high at 11.5 per cent nationally.  However, Central West and Far West Orana have some of the lowest youth unemployment rates in regional NSW with current rates at 8.7 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively.

In the 15 campaign months since November 2016, Skillset has seen 754 local people transition into apprenticeships or other jobs. Throughout the 2018/19 campaign 187 people have pursued training through our Youth Connect, Skills4Trade and Upskilled Mentoring Program. Leading industry placements were Mining, Construction, Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries making up 58 per cent of all industry placements.

Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo said it is encouraging to see the low unemployment rates across the Central West and Far West Orana regions. “While there are many contributing factors, we are proud to be playing our part by creating initiatives like SkillForce360 which contribute to the economic well-being of our regional communities. The Honorable Tanya Plibersek MP and Shadow Minister for Education and Training cited in her speech to the Universities Australia Conference that regional and remote Australians consistently have a much lower education attainment rate than urban Australia therefore it’s important to providing skills development and employment opportunities to increase social and educational mobility and economic growth.”

Skillset continues to focus on the importance of providing skills and employment for young people. Mr Randazzo said, “Whilst the SkillForce360 campaign ended on March 31, our vision doesn’t end there. We encourage local businesses to partner with us to provide opportunities for the youth of our region to ‘future-proof’ their business by ensuring they grow the skills base they need for the workforce of the future.”

4 valuable lessons learnt after school

4 valuable lessons learnt after school

With the retirement age expected to rise to 67 by 2026-28, young people will soon work for 50 years or more. So it’s important to find what you love doing and make it into something that you’ll be happy spending half a century working on.

It’s an overwhelming thought.

Have you ever thought that perhaps expecting a 17-year-old to choose the profession they want to commit to and the courses that will get them there, is perhaps too much for young, inexperienced school leavers?

Whether you leave in Year 11 or 12, you’re about to enter the world outside school and start making moves towards your dream career. A lot of students find themselves overwhelmed with the burden of choice, because there are just so many options unexpectedly available.

Late last year at a local all-girls high school careers day, our Skillset representatives, Laura Cole and Jill Notzon attended as guest speakers, discussing post-school pathways and alternative career options with the girls.

The greatest takeaway from the event was that young people like to know that what they’re doing has a purpose and outcome. Working towards something of interest gives them a sense of direction and commitment.

Skillset Workforce Recruitment Manager, Jill Notzon, told students,
“it’s important to stay calm and think clearly about what your career goals are and how you’re going to achieve these. There are so many different pathways you can follow to achieve what you want, so ensure you research the industry and reach out to those who are already working in the field.”  

When asked what she would’ve done differently, Skillset Marketing Coordinator, Laura Cole said,
“I would’ve focussed more on balance. There’s so much pressure placed on obtaining top grades, but you’re also expected to gain life experience, and work to earn money, but you’re also required to be happy and enjoy life. There’s so much pressure. Take time for yourself. Enjoy being young. Study hard, but reward yourself and ensure you’re surrounding yourself with positive people.”

4 top tips for school leavers:

  • Research career pathways – have an understanding of what your options are. Don’t feel confined to the university pathway if this doesn’t align with your goals.
  • Get into a routine – to prepare yourself for professional life, be sure to get out of bed at a reasonable time and fill your days with productivity, be that in the form of obtaining qualifications or searching for work. Don’t let those extended breaks set you in a bad pattern which you will struggle to get out of.
  • Develop your network – the power of networking is often overlooked.  Establishing a professional network will put you in good stead for the future. Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and encouraging will also ensure you have good advice and motivators wherever you go.
  • Gain experience – get involved in the industry you’re interested in! Whether this be volunteering or requesting an internship type position at an organisation you aspire to work for. This experience will improve your employability and help you in developing the hard and soft skills needed for your professional journey.

Could you use a hand in preparing your resume or finding your dream job? Contact the Skillset Workforce Team to see how they can help you!



Skillset Senior College Bathurst campus officially opened their much anticipated multi-purpose sports court this week to enhance the development of the college’s PDHPE program, with the intention of bringing greater opportunities for active participation amongst the school community.

Skillset Senior College Principal and Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo says the project was independently funded by Skillset Senior College and is another addition to the college’s expanding sports program.

Mr Randazzo says, “this fully, self-funded project will allow for the staff and students to compete in various sports which will elevate the quality of education and encourage participation for students. The school continues to enhance the college sports program in particular every second week the school comes together for a barbeque and sports afternoon. It’s wonderful to see our entire school community come together and the enjoyment it brings to the students and staff.”

Skillset Senior College operate within a student-centred model, focusing on the individual needs of its students. The PDHPE program at Skillset Senior College is to assist students with an understanding of holistic health to improve physical and mental wellbeing.

Skillset Senior College PDHPE teacher, Jono Hosking, says, “the multi-purpose sports court will enhance the students’ application and participation in a range of sports including tennis, basketball, netball and handball. This program is critical in fostering students wellbeing, improving communication and team working skills as well as improving overall fitness and physical health.”

The construction of the multi-court reinforces the college’s vision to offer first class facilities to all students. There have been a number of additions at the Bathurst campus including the federally funded Association of Independent Schools Block Grant Authority covered outdoor learning area, a small farm, access to a student kitchen as well as significant classroom improvements to provide a well-resourced physical learning environment within which students can grow personally and thrive educationally.










Laycee’s guide to surviving life after high school

Laycee Covington came into Skillset reception in November 2016. She was referred to Youth Connect after just having finished her HSC, where she was registered and supported by her consultant, Sarah Bradbury.

Laycee had no idea what her next steps following high school – she was seeking job search advice and wanted to know what training was available for her. At this stage, there were numerous pathways available and the decisions were endless:
• Laycee had been thinking about applying for university but claimed her school teachers had told her she wouldn’t achieve the ATAR needed and, that a university degree wasn’t realistic.
However, she was keen to explore available education pathways so that she could expand her future career options.
• Laycee had been working at McDonalds but her role there was soon finishing.
• She was also wanting to move out of home.

Sarah worked intensively with Laycee to identify her skills and interests and focussed on numerous career planning activities. Laycee had a profound interest in computers, so thought about related career paths in IT, computer science or the creative industries.

She was also interested in nursing, law and criminal justice studies, but had no idea about where these courses could take her, so Sarah assisted her to understand each of the industries, the various jobs available and how she could commence through VET and one-day progress in to University if she still wanted to.

Laycee initially decided nursing might be the best option for her, she was then introduced to both TAFE and CSU to discuss nursing pathways. She explored a few other ideas at TAFE but eventually decided on working towards her Certificate III in Screen and Media as she was drawn to the idea of eventually doing a Bachelor of Media Communication.

Laycee says, “I started working towards my Certificate III Screen and Media but after a couple of months withdrew as I began casual work in the finishing room at DEVRO. I needed an income in order to support myself and felt as though I couldn’t do this while studying at TAFE.”

Sarah kept in touch with Laycee and after a few months, Laycee contacted Sarah to say that she wasn’t enjoying the work and wanted help to go back to study or find another job. Laycee was then guided in exploring study options and at one point was keen to relocate to Wollongong, so Sarah explored TAFE and university courses in the Illawarra.

During this time, Laycee was interviewed by Skillset for a Business Traineeship, but was not successful. She continued in her casual role at DEVRO while exploring other work and study ideas. In August, 2017 Sarah let Laycee know about an IT traineeship advertised by Skillset. The traineeship host employer just so happened to be DEVRO. With great excitement, Laycee applied and was thankfully successful in this application.
In Laycee’s final year of her traineeship, DEVRO experienced some organisational change which she had been commended for by her supervisors for the degree of commitment, professionalism and loyalty shown towards the company.

Despite the initial setbacks and belief that Laycee would never excel in tertiary study, she received excellent results throughout the entire traineeship, was an early completion of the course and as a result of her workplace performance, has been offered a full time role at DEVRO.

Laycee says, “I’m proud of my achievements and TAFE results, I achieved more than I thought I ever could. I’m interested in now completing further study and completing my Bachelor in IT.”


Based on Laycee’s post school journey, she has made some recommendations for high school leavers:
Explore what support services, such as Youth Connect are available to you – these services can really help you to reflect on your long term goals and focus on the best pathway to achieving these.
Look for every opportunity to improve yourself and gain more knowledge – whether you’re in causal work or a traineeship, always take on extra tasks in your workplace to gain greater experience and ask questions for clarification.
Don’t be afraid to step back and change direction – if you feel as though your first decision didn’t turn out the way you wanted, or you aren’t engaged with the course, make the change to something that is of interest.
There’s no rush – don’t feel pressured to follow one particular pathway just because it’s what the majority of your school peers are doing. If you’re not sure what you want to do, take some time out to assess your options and decide what works best for you and where you want to be.

Who would’ve thought?! There’s life after highschool.

Who would’ve thought?! There’s life after highschool.

Whether you leave in Year 11 or 12, you’re about to enter the world outside school and start making moves towards your dream career. A lot of students find themselves overwhelmed with the burden of choice, because there are just so many options unexpectedly available.

It’s important to stay calm and think clearly about what your career goals are and how you’re going to achieve these goals. Really take the time to think about your passions, not just following the same path as the rest of your friends.

These are just five of your post-school options, no matter which path you pursue, be prepared to put in the same effort to making your adult years productive.

University is often thought of as the only option for becoming qualified and making a reasonable income, but that isn’t the case.

Uni classes aren’t anything like your regular high school classes. Whilst it may seem like a dream come true not having teachers on your back to get work done, you’ll have to hold yourself accountable for getting assessments completed on time and to a satisfactory standard.

University offers flexibility in regards to choosing between online distance education or face-to-face on campus learning environments. Additionally, you can choose to complete your degree on a part time or full time basis.

University also offers mammoth opportunities for your social life! You’ll get to hang with a community of like-minded students, be invited to heaps of events, join an array of groups and clubs, and get to fully exercise your independence.

Is university right for you?
• Is a university degree essential for your ideal job?
• Do you prefer an independent learning environment?
• Are you proactive and effective with time management?

Still considering uni but worried that your ATAR wasn’t high enough to get you into your preferred course? Bridging courses offer you a second chance, however the workload is often very intense over a short period of time. The course can also set you back the equivalent of your first year at uni so you’ll definitely want to ensure you’ve made the right decision prior to commencing a bridging course!


Many people who did not do well academically in high school choose trades, leading to the false perception that tradesmen are not “intelligent.” This is certainly not true. The university learning environment just isn’t for everyone.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) provides numerous pathways that help you to gain a certificate or diploma, whether this be through TAFE, a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) such as Skillset, or completing a traineeship or apprenticeship with an organisation directly.

The labour market is very favourable in the trades, and blue-collar work is quickly becoming one of the better-paying career choices. Studying VET provides a much more hands-on, practical learning experience in your chosen profession.

Is VET right for you?
• Do you prefer to learn in a practical, hands-on environment?
• Were you hoping to complete your qualifications in less than 2 years?
• Do you enjoy physically demanding work that is also mentally challenging?
• Do you want to be able to earn while you learn?

VET graduates are more likely to be employed full-time.
Up to 82% of VET graduates are employed after training;
compared to only 68% of university graduates finding full-time work.

From July 1, 2018, the NSW Government made new apprenticeships fee-free – meaning no more upfront training costs for students or employers. This also ensures that VET graduates have a lower HECS-HELP debt than university graduates.

If job security is more of your concern, learning a trade is a smart way to secure your future – in the next 12 months alone, experts predict NSW will need another 50,000 skilled construction workers and 19,000 chefs.


For some, the transition to work right after high school will be a permanent one, and that can be another pathway to your dream career.

You may start casual, which means flexible, usually minimal hours. There’s also part-time, which is for roles that only require you to work a few hours or days a week, and full-time, which means you’ll be working around 38 hours a week in your role.

Consider whether the position is a career or a job. A career has two key components that a job does not: room to advance and increasing earning potential. In contrast, a job just pays the bills.
Going straight to the workforce out of high school is a good choice if your work qualifies as a career; if not, think twice.
Settling for a job rather than a career can send you to an unfulfilling dead end. While a job can provide extra spending money in high school, chances are it won’t pay the bills as you enter adulthood.

There are plenty of benefits to working: You get to start earning money immediately and begin building your superannuation, which is money set aside from your pay to help you later on in retirement… which is something you have to think about once you finish school!

You’ll gain some great experience, develop communication skills and learn how to navigate professional environments, which is its own very valuable skill.

No further study also means… no further study. Also: no HECS-HELP debt or study loans.

Some people consider working first and studying later in life as a mature age student when they’ve decided what industry they’d like to work in where they can take their valuable, practical knowledge with them. There are still a number of things you’ll need to keep in mind though. By jumping straight into work, you might be limiting your opportunities for structured, formal learning later on.

Gap Year.

Still not sure how you want to spend your days after graduation? We get it. You might be so overwhelmed with your high school workload, you’ll want to take a break and unwind before plunging into the next stage of your life. Sometimes, that’s the best thing to do, which is why a lot of students consider a gap year after high school.

If you don’t really know what you want to do, or completing assessments wasn’t really your thing, why would you rush into doing it for another few years?!

What do you do in a gap year?
• Travel – interstate, internationally… wherever! Just take off and learn about other cultures and discover what the wider world has to offer.
• Work casually/part-time – You could start working; save up a bunch of money at a casual job, or gain some work experience in a few of your different dream industries.
• Chill out – do nothing. Read, watch movies, learn a new language, do whatever you have always wanted to do! Just take time for yourself.

Gap years allow you to gain life experience and grow on a personal level. They’re also a chance to take a break from academic pressures and explore what options are available whilst also travelling, working or volunteering, to experience other cultures and broaden your horizons.

Gap years have plenty of benefits: They get you out of the study bubble and help you gain some life experience, either by leaving home to see the world, or by putting others first through volunteering. Even the ‘chill out’ option helps you reboot if you’re burnt out from study, and gives you the time and mental breathing room to think about what it is you want to do with your life and helps to discover your passions.
Keep in mind though, gap years can be expensive and set you behind your peers who may be studying and focussed on progressing towards their careers. If you’re thinking of taking a gap year, ensure you’re choosing the path for the right reasons.


It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong choice – you can change direction at any time, it’s just a matter of reminding yourself of your goals and getting started. No matter what pathway you choose, you will gain independence and life experience and that’s the exciting thing about finishing high school.

Good luck with everything that lies ahead for you and remember to stay calm, the best is yet to come.