Blogs (Media Centre)

One skim cap, please! Great Lakes students trade textbooks for coffee cups

TAFE NSW Great Lakes

One skim cap, please! Great Lakes students trade textbooks for coffee cups

31 August 2023

With almost 30 coffee shops in the Forster-Tuncurry area alone, local caffeine culture is booming.

It’s no wonder then that learners at TAFE NSW Great Lakes are steaming up a storm of soy caps and caramel lattes in a student-run 'café'.

The immersive learning experience allows budding baristas to try their hand at manning a real-life coffee shop.

The program is all part of TAFE NSW’s career pathway offering, giving learners the opportunity to gain the skills and practical experience needed to start their careers.

Isaac Garth, who is completing a Certificate III in Career Advancement and works in retail, said taking part in the campus café was a great way to gain confidence in customer service and learn the skills required to be an adaptable member of the workforce.

“I am gaining lots of experience by working in a totally new setting," he said.

“Plus our amazing teachers are getting bargain coffees for just a few bucks!”

The 17-year-old Green Point local hopes to complete a full circle of learning at TAFE NSW, having previously completed a Certificate II in Career Preparation and is aiming to pursue a Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation to get into university.

While the Great Lakes campus café is not open to members of the public, Career Pathways and Employability Skills Head Teacher Vaughn Williams said locals shouldn’t be surprised if they see TAFE NSW students frothing perfect cappuccinos at cafes across the region – and beyond.

“The program aims to give learners the real-life experience required to jump straight into in-demand jobs,” Mr Williams said.

Skills shortages continue to impact restaurants, cafes and bars regionally, with more than 130 hospitality jobs currently listed in the Port Macquarie & Mid North Coast region on job vacancy platform Seek.

“Go grab a cuppa in any given café and it’s likely you’ll be greeted by the friendly face of a former or current TAFE NSW student. Teaching transferrable real-life skills to help learners get the jobs they want is what we’re all about,” he said.

Media contact: Lee Tobin, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0402 087 839, email