A whole new world of skills in Business Administration

WorldSkills is a multi-level competition that recognises practical skills across a range of industries. This is how it’s impacting some of RMIT’s students and teachers in Business Administration.

Hazel Sims teaches the Diploma of Business Administration at RMIT University, and has taught RMIT students for 17 years.

In 2011, Hazel Sims was researching how to uplift her teaching practice when she came across the WorldSkills competition – a multi-level test that rewards vocational education excellence through the recognition of practical skills. She met with a WorldSkills volunteer at a teaching conference soon after, and knew she had to bring it into her own classroom.

Since 2011, Hazel has incorporated WorldSkills into her teaching practice, embracing skills as the “gateway to the future”.

In 2019, she trained eight of her students to participate in the Business Services regional competition and led them through their test day.

For anyone wondering how you go about testing the use of business skills; students are asked to perform a set of administration tasks, such as creating spreadsheets, writing a professional email, and laminating and binding an information booklet that they designed and produced. 

The WorldSkills competition provides that 'edge' that students need to stand out in the current competitive job market.

Winners are given gold, silver and bronze medals, as well as the opportunity to progress to nationals, where they will compete with other students across Australia.

After progressing past nationals, students then compete on a global scale. No matter how they fare, all students are given a certificate of participation.

Hazel is committed to promoting “lifelong learning” regardless of the path her students take, and watching them get a job in their industry gives her an “absolute thrill".

Emily Pointer was one of the students who competed in the WorldSkills Business Services test in 2019.

As a currently employed receptionist in real estate, Emily wanted to develop the business skills that would also boost her interpersonal expertise.

She chose to study RMIT’s Diploma of Business Administration because of the focus on developing skills for the future work environments, such as operating in digital spaces and working with virtual teams.

A highly practical and applicable degree, Emily thoroughly enjoyed her time at RMIT, with fantastic teachers like Hazel providing quality education and inspiring passion in her students.

“I really enjoyed the program, Hazel was great! We had her for the entire year, so she knows how we work and how to get the best out of us,” she said.

Business Administration student Emily Pointer knows that jobs require practical skills, and the Business Admin WorldSkills competition was a good litmus test to see her skills in action.

Hazel strongly believes that WorldSkills provides a “vital edge” for her students when entering a competitive job market.

“It’s one thing to gain your educational certificate – and certainly, qualifications open doors. But it’s another thing entirely to be able to convert it into a job.

“WorldSkills gives students that little bit of extra experience to help them stand out to their employers.”

Hazel has seen the value of the competition first-hand in the years she’s been involved with WorldSkills. One of her past students competed at the regional level and finished second in her category. When the time came to apply for a job, the student decided to take her silver medal along to an interview, to show her potential employer. The legal firm was so impressed that they gave her a job offer on the spot.

But Hazel’s collaboration with WorldSkills doesn’t end with her preparing her students for test day. In 2016, in collaboration with WorldSkills coordinators, Hazel organised for her class to undertake work experience during the national competition.

Taking on the role of event assistants, her students worked as tour guides, ushers and helpers as thousands of Australians watched and competed in the WorldSkills events.

On a personal level, Hazel loves the vocational side of teaching.

“There’s this level of gratitude for the facilities and teaching that you don’t always encounter. At RMIT, we have incredible tools that complement our teaching delivery.

“We work within a facility that is set up as a practice firm, and we use leading TIMG software for instance – that makes it meaningful, and intensely practical, for our students.”

For Emily, both the WorldSkills competition and the Diploma of Business Administration have changed her entire perspective on administration work.

She now sees business administration as a viable career rather than a temporary stepping stone, and she wants to hone her administration skills even further in the future.

Being a part of this journey is what Hazel believes is the best part of being a teacher. She is committed to promoting “lifelong learning” regardless of the path her students take, and watching them get a job in their industry gives her an “absolute thrill".


Photography: James Robson

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