Certificate IV in Agriculture

Shearing the golden fleece

Heading to the big smoke from a country town and taking home the goods, it’s enough to make any country town kid beat their chest with pride. For Dustin Cross, winning the 2017 Australian Apprentice (Trainee) of the Year Award when he was 21 years of age was much more. It was an important step in fulfilling his dream of working in agriculture as a farmer.

While in Year 11, Dustin, from Horsham, Victoria, made triple sure he had the skills and qualifications needed for a successful career after school. He chose to complete multiple curriculum programs during Year 11 and 12, including a Victoria Certificate of Education Vocational Education and Training (VCE VET), a Victorian Certificate of Applied learning (VCAL) and an Australian School-based Apprenticeship in agriculture. Through his apprenticeship, Dustin spent one school day learning on stud farm Janmac Pastoral Company.

‘VET is a great mix of theory and practical work,’ says Dustin. ‘It sets you apart and gets you what you need for your future. With my VET studies and on-the-job training, I got to learn theory, do book work and apply what I learned in a real-world situation. There are many ways to succeed. For me, VET was the right choice.’

Dustin transitioned to a full-time traineeship with Janmac, supported by Skillsinvest, while studying a Certificate IV in Agriculture at Longerenong College. He graduated with an Advanced Diploma of Agribusiness Management and was awarded the ‘Farm Managers Award’. He then started shearing full time while planning to become a stock agent. 

‘Many students thought they had to go to university to succeed,’ says Dustin. ‘For some, there was stigma around VET as a legitimate education stream. They thought it was second rate, but the reality is VET is a fantastic pathway to a career. It opens up new options and new doors.’

As an Australian VET Alumni member, Dustin aims to inspire young students to gain their qualifications through hands-on training. ‘The age gap between me and these students isn’t large,’ says Dustin. ‘I want to lower the stigma around VET by sharing my story and showing how great a vocational education is. If Australia wants to grow, we need a lot more people in the trade sectors. We need trained people to fill all our needs.’

In the meantime, Dustin has clear goals and life is looking mighty fine. ‘I know what I want to achieve,’ he says. ‘I have a great career, a nice car, am earning good money and am happy.’

To find out more about how you can gain real skills for a real career through a VET qualification, visit www.myskills.gov.au.

If you are interested in an Australian Apprenticeship and how to get started, download An Australian Apprenticeship - Endless Career Possibilities brochure or contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

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