WEED PATROL: TAFE Digital Tom Lavery is busy forging a career while many of his mates are still sweating on HSC results.
TAFE Digital has helped a Nymboida teen launch a promising career while still at school, giving him the skills and experience to land a job in the booming horticulture field.
This time last year, while most of his South Grafton High friends were agonizing over their HSC, Tom Lavery was already working as a school-based trainee biosecurity officer at Clarence Valley Council, part of a unique arrangement that allows high school students to “earn and learn” simultaneously.
It comes as the horticulture industry rides the crest of a post-COVID jobs boom, with Labor Market Insights predicting a 14 per cent increase in gardening and landscaping jobs nationwide over the next two years.
“I’ve always loved the outdoors and school work was never my strong point, so to be able to start a career I wanted and make money while still at school was great,” Mr Lavery said.
“I was able to walk straight from school into a full-time job.”
Under the school-based traineeship, Mr Lavery worked one day a week at council and split the rest of his time between his Certificate II in Horticulture at TAFE NSW and his school work.
“Being able to study my TAFE NSW work online was perfect because it meant I didn’t have to go into a campus and I could study where and when suited me,” he said.
“My teacher had so much industry knowledge and was really supportive.
“And I love my job: I’m outdoors and in a different location every day, it keeps me fit, the money is good for a young fella and I get to help the environment.
“There’s also a real career path at council. Who knows, I could be running my team here one day.”
TAFE Digital horticulture teacher Emma De Landre, a 30-year veteran of the horticulture industry, said the industry had surged in growth during COVID lockdowns and maintained momentum since.
“There is a huge demand for our graduates and plenty of jobs around,” Ms De Landre said.
The Diploma of Horticulture Management will be offered for the first time via TAFE Digital in 2024 and is a fee-free course. It includes units in identifying and selecting trees, diagnosing plant health, managing staff, and preparing estimates, quotes and tenders. The course requires students to hold a minimum of a Certificate III to enrol, and qualifies graduates to earn roles such as parks and gardens supervisor, landscape manager, and nursery manager.
Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0477 722 428