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Worldskills equals improved career outcomes for Box Hill Institute students

13 October 2021

Worldskills is a global competition that celebrates the skills and training students learn during their studies. Box Hill Institute’s Manager of Aviation, Adrian Lea, is also the Institute’s representative on the Victorian Worldskills committee. He calls the Worldskills Competition the “Vocational Olympics” – it’s an event which draws big crowds internationally.

“This competition is important to Box Hill Institute because it gives us the opportunity to showcase the high quality training we provide to our students which sees them reach national level in the competition,” said Mr Lea. “For BHI, it’s a way of publicly demonstrating the calibre of our teachers and what we can deliver.”

Demonstrating talent and excellent for resumes

“Competing and achieving at Worldskills is excellent for our students’ resumes. Some students excel at their craft and it’s a good opportunity for them to demonstrate their talents,” he said.

Students enter regional championships and the winners proceed to national finals and then take part in international competitions.

Formerly the domain of trades like carpentry, the competition has expanded to encompass the whole range of skills that are being taught in vocational education settings.

Georgia Cadzow and Bryce Campbell, were undertaking the Certificate IV of Cyber Security when they competed at a state level in 2020. The couple made it through to the nationals. They spoke with Worldskills about their involvement and how their classes and teachers at BHI helped them achieve such great outcomes in the competition.

Increasing students’ skills and confidence

Georgia and Bryce both started studying in February 2020. They realised that Worldskills would be an opportunity to simulate some of the experiences they could have in a workplace and gain some extra skills, so they signed up.

The cyber security competition is designed so that pairs work in teams. One team does penetration testing – where they use various exploits, different evasion techniques and different methods to try and gain more access to areas which are typically out of reach. For example, passwords, accessing files, or changing things within a computer’s directory or settings. The other team looks at incoming web traffic and tries to detect what is malicious and not malicious.

Georgia said: “Collaborating with the cyber security teachers and mentors has been ongoing throughout our time training for Worldskills. We’ve had support from our teachers and different industry professionals, to help us be the best we can. It was the first experience I had – while learning cyber security – where I really had to challenge my belief in my abilities.”

Bryce said: “For me, it was the perfect combination of having the people there to support you in a hands-on environment.”

Why study cyber security at Box Hill Institute?

Neither Georgia nor Bryce expected to have a career in cyber security. Georgia moved around from neuroscience to fashion marketing before finding the industry. She decided to enrol because she wanted to build her skills in this area. She was always science and math focused in high school and said: “I always expected to go into a science career, but I didn’t think, necessarily, that an IT career was for me.”

Georgia is now employed as an intern at one of the Big 4 banks in Melbourne. Her internship means she has exposure to many different areas of cyber security in the banking world and she is able to analyse where her skills might lead her.

“The beauty with cyber security is that it doesn’t matter what your interests are or your core skills, whether you’re analytical or creative or a good problem solver. With cyber security the skills are transferable across so many different areas, you don’t have to stick to one path for your whole career,” she said.

Bryce has always wanted to work in offensive cyber security. Before starting the course, he completed a Certificate II as part of his secondary school VET class. He was learning about cyber security online and attending hacking conferences, for example, DEFCON.

Helping organisations find their glitches

His goal as a ‘hacker’ was not malicious. Rather, it was to help organisations find their glitches. “I thought a career in cybersecurity was an insurmountable task without going to uni, but when I got to TAFE I realised I could do it!”

After completing his Certificate II, Bryce found employment with a small Cyber Security Operations Centre (C-SOC) team in Melbourne. His role as an analyst focuses on security operations work for Australian-based businesses, although it also includes a few overseas companies.

The tasks he completes are the cornerstone of cyber security. Bryce spends his days searching for and identifying abnormal cyber activity, to see if accounts are being used maliciously. He compares how online behaviours should work, with how they are working, to see if they match. If not, he can alert someone to fix the problem.

A flexible and creative career

These days, cyber security has entered the general consciousness of the world as something that is really important and something we need to be vigilant about. This means there are jobs in this field constantly being created, with companies who are doing exciting things in cyber security. Because it’s such a growth industry there’s a lot of room for creativity and the ability to be flexible with how it works.

This flexibility has been particularly beneficial for Georgia, who has ADHD. “Being able to work within my own limits, but still being able to contribute quite a lot to the general public, has been really eye opening for me. I never thought that there would be a role that would work for me and my ADHD,” said Georgia.

“One thing I recognised, coming into TAFE, was the care and support a lot of my teachers offered me throughout my course, which was so beneficial for me. Without the teachers there for guidance and support you can feel a bit lost in the fray, which is how I felt at university.”

Last year, Box Hill Institute won Cyber Security Educator of the Year Award at the Australian Information Security Awards (AISA).

BHI was due to host and compete in a Worldskills finals event on its own campus on 21-22 October – with the highest number of students it has ever had taking part in the national competition. Due to Covid-19 and the ongoing restrictions, the Worldskills event has been cancelled. All students who were due to take part in the event will receive a finalist medal and a participation award.

Worldskills and Box Hill Institute thank everyone involved – BHI executive team, management, teaching staff, mentors and competitors for your contribution to the 2021 National training program and look forward to recommencing Worldskills activities in 2022.