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TAFE NSW skills in-demand workers ahead of retail rebound


TAFE NSW skills in-demand workers ahead of retail rebound

Graduate Alex Pugliese is poised to benefit from a strong retail rebound thanks to his training with TAFE NSW. 

When COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift in NSW and the retail sector reopens in earnest, visual merchandising will be more important than ever to catch the eye and draw consumers into store. In preparation, TAFE NSW is providing a pipeline of skilled visual merchandisers to support the reopening of NSW’s economy.  

TAFE NSW graduate Alex started his retail career early on, enrolling in a TVET course at school to learn aspects of his preferred vocational trade in year 11.

“My passion really stemmed from a retail services TVET course I completed during year 11. I was able to secure some work experience where they allowed me to work on some visual merchandising and I loved it, so they commented that maybe this was something I could look at doing professionally,” Alex said. 

“As soon as I finished the retail services course I knew I wanted to pursue visual merchandising as a career, and my experience with vocational education had shown me that I would get real, hands-on skills I could put into practice in the workplace.”

Alex left school at the end of year 11 and enrolled in the nationally accredited Diploma of Visual Merchandising which builds the high level of knowledge and skills needed to excel as a visual merchandiser or stylist in both the retail and events industry. 

Visual Merchandising Teacher Nicola Stewart said though the NSW retail sector was going through a challenging period, Visual Merchandisers like Alex would be critical in ensuring the industry bounces back once lockdowns lift.

“We know that retail experienced a strong bounce-back after the 2020 lockdowns in New South Wales, so it’s important to train workers now for once restrictions are lifted,” Nicola said.

“Through a mix of theory and practical coursework, students in the Diploma learn to create plans and drawings to communicate ideas, develop visual merchandising creative concepts, design and implement merchandise displays and more.”

Alex was recently awarded the 2021 Supply Chain and eCommerce Student of the Year at the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards and received second place in the international “Iron Merchant Challenge” during his studies. He’s now employed as a Furniture Specialist and Visual Merchandising Support at Eden nursery Macquarie Park.

Alex says TAFE NSW gave him the confidence to explore his talents, now he’s in a career he loves. he’s excited to see where his new career can take him and can’t wait for the retail sector to reopen so he can continue to flex his skills.

“Once you find your passion – go for it. Ask a lot of questions and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your teachers at TAFE NSW, they are extremely knowledgeable and open to helping you even after the course has concluded.”

To find out more about the range of study options available at TAFE NSW including the Diploma of Visual Merchandising, visit or call 131 601. 

Media contact: Alice Dalley, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, mobile 0402 528 210.