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Harley Glenn chose painting and decorating as a work experience option because she wanted something hands-on. After just a few days, she fell in love with it and now works in the industry as an apprentice at North Hobart-based Watkins Morgan Painting Service.

As a third year apprentice, who has just completed a Certificate III in Painting and Decorating at TasTAFE, Harley, 19, can see the benefits of vocational education and training both now and in her future.

“With a trade you can have your own business. I can travel, I can work for myself- it can take me anywhere. Once I get my ticket, the world’s my oyster.

“It’s not like uni where you might not get a job when you’re finished. With an apprenticeship you get paid while you study.”

The research backs up Harley’s view.

A May 2017 report, Perceptions Are Not Reality: myths, realities and the critical role of vocational education and training in Australia, found that Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector produces highly skilled graduates with remuneration and employment outcomes comparable to those of university graduates. It found VET graduates have a higher employment rate than undergraduates. More than 78 per cent of graduates are employed after training, while 69 per cent of bachelor degree graduates are employed.

Harley also loves the fact that her “office” changes from week to week.

“As a painter you get to see new places and awesome architecture. You have a different office everywhere you go. It’s great to see different houses and you get to paint some of them from start to finish.”

Watkins Morgan covers all facets of painting but residential work is Harley’s favourite because she enjoys meeting and chatting to clients.

While Painting and Decorating is traditionally a male-dominated industry, things are slowly changing. Harley is one of five female painting and decorating apprentices who trained at TasTAFE in 2017.

“I don’t feel any different to anyone else, I get treated the same. It’s easy, it’s not a problem. Girls shouldn’t be scared to get into a trade that’s male-dominated – it’s not an issue whatsoever.”

Harley says the world’s her oyster with a VET qualification