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VET pathways into tech careers


Thinking about doing the vocational education and training (VET) thing after high school? Systems engineer Chris Williamson went to TAFE and hasn’t looked back

Heading to uni isn’t the only way to land an awesome career in tech! Kickstarting your computer science career via a VET (Vocational Education and Training) pathway can lead to some pretty cool next-gen opportunities that’ll equip you with the immediate skills needed to score a job.

But what are non-uni pathways in tech like? And what kind of jobs can you score once you’re done? Here, we chat to Associate Systems Engineer, Chris Williamson, about his alternative pathway into a successful tech career.

READ MORE: Er, what exactly is VET?

Chris Williamson, Associate Systems Engineer

“I was never someone who was destined for university,” says Chris – but that hasn’t stopped him from learning a huge range of skills.

Tech jobs
Chris’s experience in multiple industries has ended up being his golden ticket.

While Chris was studying a Diploma of Graphic Design at TAFE in Perth, his teachers encouraged him to compete in a WorldSkills competition. This was his chance to prove his burgeoning skills on a national stage in front of potential employers – and he won a gold medal!

Through his qualifications and graphic design work, Chris learnt about the principles of good design and also the psychological aspects of digital user interfaces and user experience. He then backed up these skills with a Certificate in Computer Systems Technology, through which he was able to better understand backend systems and develop his skills in technical troubleshooting. While working with Kinetic IT – his current employer – he has had multiple roles, including service desk technician and major incident management.

READ MORE: A guide to choosing VET subjects

More recently, Chris has fallen in love with automation, as he says it means he can eliminate boring, repetitive tasks and focus on the fun things. Having learned PowerShell and JavaScript, his next role will be working on a platform designed to automate business tasks.

Chris says he’s excited by the opportunity to use all the skills he’s learnt to creatively and
efficiently solve client needs.

“My experience in multiple industries has ended up being my golden ticket,” he says.
“These skill sets are a perfect combination for my next role: understanding how the platform works, the ability to build automation and understanding how to make the user interface easy for the intended audience.

“Back when I was 16, I had no idea that WorldSkills would lead to a world of opportunities for me.”

Chris’s pathway

  • Certificate IV in Printing and Graphic Arts, TAFE
  • Diploma of Graphic Design, TAFE
  • Graphic Designer (Freelance), Australian eSports
  • Certificate IV in Computer Systems Technology
  • Service Desk Technician, Kinetic IT
  • Incident Manager, Kinetic IT
  • Associate System Engineer, Kinetic IT

WorldSkills Australia competitions

WorldSkills Australia competitions can open up opportunities such as mentorship, travel and scholarships. You can learn more about them here.

This article was brought to you in partnership with the National Careers Institute and was originally published in Careers with STEM: Technology.

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