With the nation experiencing a growing skills shortage and a declining number of apprentices and trainees, there are promising signs of a change in the Riverina.
A Try a Trade Expo was held at Wagga Wagga during National Skills Week and attracted more than 600 students from 14 local high schools to engage with 55 businesses.
The expo was a chance for students to meet potential employers and participate in immersive and interactive activities with local workplaces.
“There was a lot of interaction with employers and school students,” said Stacey Suidgeest from Training Services NSW.
“There was a huge variety of employers, and the students had the opportunity to see different equipment.
“There was something for everyone that came out.”
Ms Suidgeest said the second annual event had doubled in size from last year.
“We’ve got a lot more support, and employers gave up their whole day to be out here [at the expo],” she said.
“It’s been incredible, and we can’t do these events without the support from the community.”
Ms Suidgeest said supporting students in regional NSW was vital because it would make them stay in the area if they knew what opportunities were available locally.
Students in Years Nine to 12 were able to learn about a range of trades and TAFE opportunities for their post-school destinations.
“We got a lot of information on what we want to do and how we can do it,” said Wagga High student Kelsie Allen, who hopes to pursue a career in health.
“I had a small idea about physio and nursing, but I didn’t know all the different pathways you can go into it.
“Many people don’t know what they want to do, and this [expo] gives them a great idea of what they can do.”
Wagga High Year Nine student Doreen Tuyisenge found the expo fun and educational.
“It’s important for students to experience a trade they are interested in and see if that’s exactly what they want to do,” Doreen said.
While Doreen isn’t sure what she wants to do yet, she has learned a great deal about various trades.
Classmate Sienna Thomson said the expo had been a great experience for her to learn about a wide variety of career opportunities.
Sienna is hoping to pursue either medical science or nursing.