With up to 400 applications for entry level positions at Bunnings Busselton, 17 year old Chelsea Smith knew she needed an edge. By being part of Busselton Senior High School’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) program in business studies, Chelsea was given access to a work experience placement with Bunnings, as well as a training session delivered by Lockie Hill, the Bunnings Complex Manager.

This combination of experience and interview training gave her the skills and the confidence to land a job at Bunnings.

For Chelsea having time with Lockie was a game-changer.

"Having that extra assistance and training from someone who's more experienced, it definitely helps you to get to where you want to be." - Chelsea Smith

Lockie makes a point of spending time with students, regularly running presentations and delivering training sessions on how to apply for jobs and perform well in interviews. He says that Bunnings encourages him and his team to give back to the community, and look out for the future generation of Busselton.

“Retail provides opportunity for the development of some very sought after skills that are applicable to many industries, as well as any career development opportunities. Most importantly interpersonal skills, the ability to work as a team, to motivate and to lead,” Lockie explains.

Along with practical tips about resume and interview preparation Lockie also teaches the students about resilience, “Resilience because there are thousands of people out there looking for work and despite all efforts you may end up being unsuccessful on more than one occasion. Feeling rejected and unwanted and not good enough is a real threat during this time,” he says.

This combination of skills development and mindset training are invaluable for young people starting to engage in the employment market.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott says the best way to ensure Australians have the right jobs at the right time is giving them the skills and training they need over their working lives – starting at school with improving literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

“It continues into post-secondary education by removing the cultural and funding bias against VET.”

Connie Watson is the VET coordinator at Busselton Senior High School and says that vocational training has a good reputation in Busselton ”There's lots of success stories in the town. There's lots of success stories that have come through this organisation (Bunnings) and some of the other big employers in town,” she says, which is also demonstrated by the high school winning the National VET in schools award in 2018.

“There’s no reason vocational education should be treated as a second-class citizen to the university system.” - Jennifer Westacott, CEO Business Council of Australia

The Business Council has outlined a vision to build a more efficient post-secondary education and skills system that creates a culture of lifelong learning, encouraging all Australians to upskill and retrain throughout their lives.

Lockie says the diversity across their workforce has seen “students who are coming up through high school where this is their first job, through to experienced tradies who are looking for a transition into retirement where they can still apply the skill set and share the knowledge that they’ve built up through their life.”

This is a great example of how Wesfarmers, through Bunnings, is helping the Busselton community.

With 105 local team members, the economic contribution the store makes through employment, as well as keeping purchases in the local community, combined with the investment in skill development and training, makes Bunnings a great asset to the community.

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