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Kevin gears up for a new career

The ‘earning while learning’ transition has been a highly successful pathway for Kevin Pitt, who is now employed as a teacher at TAFE Queensland thanks to our Foundation Educator Program.

“My trade is light vehicle automotive. I've been in the industry for 14 years in a variety of positions from an apprentice to Diagnostic Technician and Workshop Foreman, mostly working in dealership workshops at Mitsubishi, Kia, Nissan, and Hyundai,” Kevin explained.

“I had decided that getting into education was the next step in my career, honestly though I wasn’t expecting to get here so soon. When I started my teaching certificate I thought it would take me up to five years to get a position with TAFE Queensland, my dream training job, but the Foundation Educator Program made a huge difference to that timeframe,” Kevin said.

Kevin was not alone in his perceptions – recent research conducted by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research highlighted the need for a clearer and more hands-on pathway from industry expert to teacher. As such, the Foundation Educator Program was developed by TAFE Queensland with the objective to attract passionate industry experts and convert them into the highest quality teachers and tutors. The program was also developed to address succession planning and ensure a continued enthusiastic workforce, for which TAFE Queensland is renowned.

The Foundation Educator Program sees industry experts employed and paid as a Foundation Educator whilst completing their Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40116), also known as a TAE, funded by TAFE Queensland, if completed within 12 months. As they progress through each stage of their training qualification, their responsibilities within the classroom increase, under the guidance of a supervisor who acts as a mentor, and assesses and confirms the Foundation Educator’s required skills and competencies.

“I didn’t actually know of the Foundation Educator Program until I saw the advertisement for the position with TAFE Queensland," continued Kevin.

"I was part-way through my TAE and I jumped at the opportunity. I sat in on a few weeks of classes so I could get an understanding of how the programs are run. This then progressed to more of a teaching assistant role where I guided the apprentices in practical activities and helped with questions as I was able."

"Then finally I was moved into leading the classes, with my mentor sitting in class to provide guidance and support. Now that I have graduated, I am running classes on my own and signing off on assessments,” he said.

“Having the benefit of talking to truly experienced educators definitely helped me attain my TAE, as they were able to give me a lot of guidance and context on the subjects. The teaching and support staff in my department are great, very supportive and inclusive. Starting a new career was initially very intimidating but with their support it has been the best decision I have made,” Kevin shared.

The ‘earning while learning’ transition has been a highly successful pathway for Kevin, who is now employed as a Teacher at TAFE Queensland. Exactly as the Foundation Educator Program intended.

“I have found it to be very rewarding teaching apprentices. Given they all have an interest in the subject matter, it really makes it easy to connect with them. Seeing the uptake of knowledge and their professional growth over time is very satisfying,” offered Kevin.

“I would definitely recommend experienced and passionate industry experts to jump at this ‘become a trainer’ opportunity, even if they hadn’t already started the TAE certificate like I had," he continued.

"As for my plans now – they’re to fine tune my skills as an educator – there is always so much to learn, every day is a new experience and there’s a new lesson to absorb. In the future I may take the opportunity to study a Bachelor of Education (Applied Learning) with assistance from TAFE Queensland. But however it goes, I can see myself in education for a long time,” concluded Kevin.