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The right person for the right job: Tom’s teaching journey

Training and skills case study

For Thomas Patterson, education and employment are the bedrock of any community. Training and upskilling students is his passion, and he loves being in a job where he can do that daily.

Tom teaches the Certificate II in Building & Construction at the Outer Northern Trade Training Centre (ONTTC) in Melbourne.

Thomas Patterson case study

After he completed his pre-apprenticeship course and fell in love with carpentry, Tom spent years overseas working as a carpenter in the US, Canada and Spain. There, his teaching journey found its roots in the practical side of the job.  

Tom recounts the lightbulb moment when he realised his true calling, which happened when he was teaching an apprentice on a job. He saw just how fulfilling it can be to support someone and share skills.  

Tom now strives to facilitate that burning desire in everyone he teaches.

“As a young person, to find your place is a beautiful thing.”  

Tom completed his degree in teaching to not only enhance his own teaching style, but also to be able to apply those techniques across the entire training centre.

“The mix of VET courses and classroom teaching was what really allowed me to accelerate and refine those high-level skills,” Tom says.

“From a teaching perspective, I learned important soft skills like non-verbal communication, selective attention to students, using positive feedback to redirect behaviour, and proximity.”

In recognition of his efforts, Tom was awarded the VET Teacher of the Year award at the 2023 Victorian Training Awards. In his view, it’s an award that celebrates his students.

Thomas Patterson case study

“In my acceptance speech, I thanked Uncle Ringo, who gave the Welcome to Country that evening, and the students, because there are no teachers without them,” Tom recalls.

What Tom loves most about VET teaching is how practical the classes can be. “It’s so concrete and real,” he says.  

“VET teachers and students are hands-on people – we’re constructors, that’s how we learn.”

This tactile way of teaching is helping VET students to become skilled workers.

“Education is far reaching and there are a lot of options,” Tom says. “We need to keep working to get the right students into the right courses, and the right teachers too.” 

Tom will be moving to England later in the year to continue his career as a VET educator.