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From coffee to classrooms: Brett’s TAFE teaching journey

Training and skills case study

From a young age, Brett White knew he preferred a hands-on learning style. He enjoyed the more practical side of things, like talking with people or pouring the perfect cup of coffee.

When he became a TAFE teacher many years later, he began sharing this story with his own students.  

“There was always an expectation that when you finish high school, you go to university,” Brett explains. 

Brett White case study

“It’s important to understand how you learn best, and that there's no such thing as the right way. You just need to find the way that works for you.”

The TAFE sector has had a huge impact on Brett’s career. After graduating from school and relocating to Wodonga, he completed four diplomas in hospitality, events, business and tourism.  

Armed with practical training and experience, Brett spent a few years working in the industry and even started his own coffee business.  

“I was working a full-time job in a café when we started,” he recalls. “We went on to specialise in events like product launches and weddings.”

Not long after, Wodonga TAFE, Brett’s former TAFE institution, reached out to offer him the opportunity to move into education and training. It wasn’t something he’d considered before, but he was incredibly glad he gave it a go.  

“If you'd asked me 10 years ago if I would be a teacher, I would have said no way,” Brett says. “If it wasn't for the encouragement and support of my colleagues, I wouldn't be in this position.”

Recently, Brett has been training other TAFE educators transitioning from industry to teaching. It’s a full circle moment, as Brett still remembers the teachers who helped him succeed in his earlier TAFE courses.  

“Learning more about the VET (Vocational Education and Training) sector and the impact that it has had on myself and others has meant I've found a new passion here,” says Brett.  

Brett White case study

He points out that many TAFE institutions now offer to pay for the qualifications you need to become a teacher.  

With the demand high and several flexible roles on offer, Brett encourages anyone interested in bringing their skills into the classroom to give it a go.  

“If you are passionate about representing your industry and helping others get started, TAFE teaching can be a great path,” says Brett. 

“I’ve got students who have been a truck driver for 30 years, or an arborist or nurse.”