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From little things big things grow at TasTAFE

LEARNING is a lifelong process.

This sentiment is clear at the TasTAFE Clarence Campus, where students of all ages and backgrounds come together to undertake vocational education and training.

Some of the more “hands-on” of these programs are the horticulture courses, which appeal to those who enjoy planning and organising practical projects and like working outdoors.

With the benefit of a student-made and maintained nursery and propagation area, TasTAFE horticulture teacher Cameron McKinnon said students were actively involved in applied learning.

“Everything you see around the horticulture faculty at the Clarence Campus has had the hand of students for the past 15 years,” he said.

“Here students can complete their Certificate II and Certificate III in Horticulture in a really hands-on learning environment.”

Mr McKinnon said the job outcomes for those who completed these qualifications were very positive.

“Our work-placement program has had great success in creating jobs for our students, with TasTAFE working with around 40 employers around Hobart,” he said.

“It is a real misconception that only college-aged people can undertake this learning, as we have people aged from 16 to 70-plus years in our classes.”

Mr McKinnon said students’ motivations for undertaking the courses were varied.

“Some are seeking a change of industry, whereas others just want to further their knowledge of horticulture, but 98 per cent of students say they love gardens and working outdoors,” he said.

“The training package is set up so we prepare people to enter the industry at the level qualification they have completed, however, there are some people who do it for pleasure, but they still go through the assessment process.

“Certificate II runs two days a week for three Department of Education school terms and the Certificate III for four days a week for four school terms with flexible learning options available.”

Mr McKinnon said the flexible learning options were great for students who had fulltime jobs and family commitments.

“There are also many pathways students undertake to lead them to these certificates,” he said.

Will Carey, who graduated from the University of Tasmania in 2013 with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in environmental studies and recently began Certificate III in Horticulture, has undertaken one of these pathways.

“With university I was a bit unfulfilled, it was less hands-on and I was in a classroom doing a lot of theory-based work,” Mr Carey said.

“Towards the end I did not really feel like I was getting the skills I wanted.”

“I have really enjoyed TasTAFE because it is so workplace-driven, it is what you would be doing in the ‘real world’.

“After I have completed Certificate III, I will transition to a Conservation and Land Certificate and hopefully, get into trail works and revegetation.”

Another Certificate III student, Ingrid Tebb, transitioned to the course after completing her Certificate II.

“I really enjoyed Certificate II and decided to give up my fulltime day job to have a change and complete Certificate III,” she said.

“I have since got a job at the Fork in the Road Garden Centre and absolutely love it.”

James Eagle also began Certificate III this year and said he enjoyed the applied style of learning.

“I was unemployed before starting Certificate II and have since returned to expand the broad skill set I learnt last year,” he said.

“These skills mean we can get into council, park, propagation, food production or retail work – it is really exciting.”

For more information about TasTAFE Horticulture education and training programs go to www.tastafe.tas.edu.au or call 1300 655 307.

Photo caption: TasTAFE Clarence Campus Certificate III in Horticulture students, from left, Will Carey, Ingrid Tebb and James Eagle.