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Bethany Simpson

Bethany Simpson, 17, Mildura, Vic

Bethany is living proof that taking a School-Based apprenticeship alongside Year 11 and 12 studies can be a “smart-choice”. It’s given Bethany a flying start to a career she hopes will ultimately lead to high-level corporate management positions.  Bethany was named Australia’s School-based Apprentice of the Year in 2017, and she now works full-time in a role that, among other things, promotes the benefits of school-based apprenticeships and traineeships.  She is also considering pursuing a business degree by remote learning.

Bethany’s story:

“My family moved to Mildura from rural South Australia as new business owners of the Boulevard Motor Inn.  We moved just before I started Year 11 and we came here, really, to give my younger sister and I better education opportunities. Dad had been a Sheriff and mum was a nurse, so they didn’t really have business experience in that sense, but management was something that had always interested me.

“I worked part-time in the motel restaurant and a customer told dad and mum about the School Based Apprenticeship and Traineeship (SBAT) program.  We looked into it, and I started a Certificate III in Business Administration, then went on to work at the Boulevard as part of a School-Based Traineeship during Year 11 and 12.  It was one day a week, instead of school and I loved it.

“That experience meant I got accepted into the La Trobe VCE-Plus program, studying a business degree part-time at La Trobe University while I completed Year 12.  It was hard work in every aspect – both at work and at school, but it was worth it.

“I have now started work with Sunraysia Murray Group Training and I’m excited to learn skills and work towards things I’m passionate about. I hope to continue learning and advancing my career, hopefully one day to a CEO level.”

On Reflection

“Vocational education and training is a hidden gem in the education system – it often gets overlooked as a pathway, but it’s an amazing opportunity.

“It integrates on-the-job experiences and learning in an area that you think you might be interested in and allows you to explore that interest as part of your schooling.  It really lets you road test a career option before you commit to further study or formal training.

“It can be in traditional apprenticed trades, but also in areas like business administration, as I did, which gives a pathway and insight into so many career opportunities whilst building employability skills. 

“People think SBAT locks you out of university courses, but it’s not true.  For me, and other people I know who’ve done it, it’s only opened many more work and study opportunities.  I’ve ended up with a full-time job, but also my VCE-Plus studies will give me credit if I start a business degree – which I think I will, by remote learning, this year.

“But apart from the work experience and learning, there are really practical benefits.  While I was doing my SBAT I was still living at home, so I was able to save the money I earned. I’ve put a deposit on a block of land and plan to start building once I turn 18, meaning it’s allowed me to financially set myself up for the future.”