TAFE NSW is helping the arboriculture industry tackle a growing national skills shortage by training up and instilling a passion for the industry in workers like Sydney-based arborist Dalton Wills.
The 30-year-old from Coogee was working in the tree business as a labourer when he decided to upskill and enrolled in a Certificate III in Arboriculture at TAFE NSW Ryde.
He said joining the world-class horticultural college at Ryde led to a full-time position with Woollahra Municipal Council and gave him a deep appreciation for the beauty, environmental value, and public benefit of trees.
“Before, my work was just about making money, but the team at TAFE NSW helped me understand that it’s a really important responsibility to take care of trees and our public green spaces,” Dalton said.
“It’s given me a whole new perspective and it’s no longer just a job but a career that I love. Our team at Woollahra Council manages more than 20,000 trees. It’s our responsibility to care for them and ensure they remain healthy now and for future generations.”
Arboriculture Australia, the national peak body representing the industry, describes the current national skills shortage as “critical” while a Department of Education, Skills and Employment occupation report reveals only 15% of job vacancies in the industry are filled.
Dalton said TAFE NSW teachers taught him all the skills to step straight into work as well as a philosophical understanding of arboriculture, such as the broader context for why trees are so important to society.
“We learn to treat removal as a last resort because trees hold so much social, environmental, and economic value in the ground. It’s a very holistic approach to tree management,” Dalton explained.
“The teaching staff at TAFE NSW are experienced arborists with so much knowledge and practical skills. I graduated with all the skills I needed for a successful career as well as learning to understand and respect the role trees play in our city and our culture.”
TAFE NSW’s horticultural college enjoys a decades-old partnership maintaining some of Sydney’s most cherished public spaces, including the Royal Botanic Garden, the heritage-listed Rookwood Cemetery, Centennial Park, and the grounds of many major hospitals and institutions.
Head Teacher of Arboriculture at TAFE NSW Ryde, John Douglas, said the partnership gives students like Dalton the opportunity to grow their skills in some of the city’s most magnificent parks and gardens, embedding a deep sense of responsibility as they help shape Sydney’s green spaces.
“The city gets the tree work done for free while we have a perfect training ground for our students. It’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship,” Mr Douglas said.
“The students work on trees in places that are incredibly special to the people of Sydney, so they take pride in the work, and it helps build their skills, knowledge, and respect for the job.”
Explore hundreds of courses and pursue your passion with life-changing training at TAFE NSW. For more information visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.
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