A local 17-year-old with hopes of working as a vet nurse has taken the "fast lane" to reaching her career dream by studying a TAFE NSW animal studies course - while still at high school.
Natasha Southwell's love of animals was forged on her family's Carwoola hobby farm, where she helps care for a menagerie of animals, including two foster cats, sheep, ducks and a horse.
Eager to parlay her passion into a career, the Karabar High Year 12 student enrolled in a Certificate II in Animal Studies through TAFE Digital as a TVET course last year, and has already secured a part-time job at a local pet kennel.
TVET courses blend theory and work placement and, allow students to complete a TAFE NSW course while still at school.
Natasha is now planning on tackling a Certificate IV in Vet Nursing at TAFE NSW Goulburn after completing her HSC this year.
"I've always loved animals and the relationships you build with them, and I'm really drawn to caring for them," Natasha said.
"I've learned so much about the industry and the skills you need to succeed through TAFE NSW, and I'm now determined to be a vet nurse."
Vet nurses make up 42 per cent of the vet services workforce and the occupation is projected to grow a further 13 per cent by 2024.
In April, Natasha secured a part-time animal attendant job at Hanrob Pet Hotels, allowing her to get hands-on experience of the pet care industry while still studying.
TAFE Digital Animal Studies teacher Robyn Bardsley said Natasha was an example of how TVET courses can fast-track a student's career while they were still at school.
"Natasha was such a determined student and she is living proof that you can get valuable skills and industry experience before even finishing high school," Ms Bardsley said.
She said the Certificate II in Animal Studies was a pre-requisite to studying the Certificate IV in Vet Nursing.
If you'd like to learn more about studying at TAFE NSW, call 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au