The last few years in the vocational education sector have seen a roller-coaster of ups and downs. At times the changes have seemed never-ending with new standards, requirements and funding schemes. And we don’t need to tell you about the restructures and closures of RTOs, the damage done to the sector’s reputation and the flow on effect to individuals of all of this.  To be truthful, it's been difficult for all of us at times to stay positive in vocational education.

So how can you as individual stay positive and bring this approach to the RTO where you work?

1 | Don't lose your sense of humour

We’re listing this first because we love a good laugh at AVETMESS (see photo evidence above!).

And let’s face it, sometimes you just have to laugh!

And yes, done right, humour has its place even in serious times. Just think of the clown doctors using laughter as medicine with sick children.

2 | Adopt a REALISTIC optimism approach

When someone tells us to stay optimistic in the face of challenges and change, it can feel a little patronising and condescending.

For many people too, it can be a challenge to turn around pessimism especially if that’s become the culture of your RTO and then every time you hear something about VET it’s another bad news story.

Realistic optimism is a little different though. It acknowledges that there are challenges at the moment, but that there is also reason to feel good about the future. Difficult times don’t last forever and problems can usually be worked out over time.

Being both realistic and optimistic gives you the chance to envisage an easier and  better time to come.

3 | Keep the big picture in mind

Some people also refer to this as remembering the “why”.

Why does vocational education exist? It’s to make people’s lives better through education that boosts their careers. No matter what your role is in an RTO, you are indirectly helping this to happen. How great is that!?

And if that just seems too distant to be a motivator today, think about why you are working personally. Is to support your family or are you saving for a holiday or….?

4 | Remember the past

Think about the challenges and hurdles you’ve already faced in your career or that your RTO has overcome.

Think about your successes.

Keep a record of these accomplishments and refer to it for a boost when it’s difficult to stay positive.

TIP: When you get a nice email, drag it to a folder in your email software and reflect back on them from time to time.

5 | Maintain perspective

In challenging times of change, one of the best things you can do is get outside into nature.

Hiking in the bush, climbing a mountain, walking by the sea….all of these things tend to put our work lives into perspective. And even more so if you can enjoy these experience with friends or family.

The AVETMESS team are all for taking the dogs for a walk!

6 | Stay connected

It’s easy to want to withdraw and isolate yourself during difficult times if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

And whilst some silence and solitude can be a good thing, it’s a healthy habit to stay connected both professionally and personally.

Maintaining your network and calling upon people when you need support or assistance will help you to be more positive and gives you the opportunity to reciprocate….which, you guessed it, will also help you be more positive! Win, win!!!


Don’t get us wrong, we know that the VET sector can be tough! We’re not denying that at all and in fact we often see the grey cloud hovering over the RTOs we work with.

But we’re confident that applying these 6 ways of staying positive in vocational education can make a huge difference as you navigate your way through difficult times!

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Comment below and let us know if you have any tips for staying positive in vocational education...