It was my pleasure to present the keynote at the Circulus Education end of year function in 2015.

Here is my speech from the night...


Thankyou Circulus for having me here and thanks to all of you for coming along to help celebrate the year that was 2015!

And what a year it has been.

My mum used to say to me the years go faster and faster.

She was right.

I have my own theory though that its because as we go on in life we get busier with interests (and distractions) and that makes time go fast.

And so it is little wonder that I stand here today reflecting on how fast 2015 has gone by for our industry.

It’s certainly been an interesting year, full of happening (and distractions).

This year has been particularly full of ‘bignews’ and change .

Indeed, every year seems to be more eventful than the last in our sector.

A lot of my work this year has been looking at the role of media in our industry, particularly its impact over the last few years, and so being here at The Age seems like a sensible way to finish the year off.

It is not big news to any of us here that the media scrutiny of our industry over the last little while has been intense.

I cannot recall a time in my career where there have been higher levels of reporting on the work of our sector.

And I cannot complain!

In actual fact I have always wanted more media exposure for our sector, just not the type we have seen!

Whilst it is safe to say that most of the media coverage has been on the negative side of the industry, we can’t assume that mainstream media is responsible for all of this scrutiny though.

We create a lot of content ourselves in online forums.

We need to take responsibility for some of this.

I was reminded of a home truth recently when discussing our industry and its troubles with a friend – someone who doesn’t know our sector at all.

I was essentially complaining about the unbalanced view of our sector at a macro level and she was quite puzzled.

She said to me Nick – all I ever see is this negative stuff, so how would I know that there WAS a positive story to be told?

She was right.

I’ve been talking at events this year a lot about the need to celebrate our successes and to do so loudly. With vigour, and with abandon.

My friend reminded me of something else, too.

She could only tell a negative story about our industry because it’s all she ever saw.

And it made me realise that perhaps media is a little bit the same.

If we don’t tell them all the good things that are happening, how can they broadcast a counter balance to the negativity?

We need to treat the media the way I treat my friend.

I didn’t blast her for not knowing what she doesn’t know, I needed to take it upon myself to give her the other side of the story in the hope that she will broadcast that as well.

So I am very glad that we have Henrietta and Timna from Fairfax here today to tell us a bit more about how media works and their role in it.

And I am VERY happy that Circulus have created this opportunity for all of us to provide a tidal wave of positive stories that they can work with.

The opportunity is here, right now, tonight and I encourage you to take it.

The other topic I have talked a lot about this year on is recruitment in our sector and the challenges that people face when they have been made redundant from jobs in RTO’s.

It’s sad news this week that one of the largest providers has gone into voluntary administration - but we also need to remember that it’s not just these big players who downsize, collapse, or make people redundant.

This happens all across our sector, all the time.

I guess too that it is also important to remember that we need to separate WHY these things happen, from the fact that they DO.

And yes, I have heard plenty of chatter that goes along the lines of “finally – they get what they deserve”.

Whilst I have a similar reaction, I’ll admit, I am constantly reminded that organisations don’t suffer, but the people do.

As someone who has been through several redundancies in this sector in the last few years, I know that this is the absolute truth.

I saw earlier in the year many trainers and assessors who were saying that they were being overlooked in the candidate pile because of where they had worked.

It was as if the organisational reputation had become theirs.

I know many examples of people who have been a really great fit for a role – skills, attitude, qualifications – everything – but who have missed out because they have worked at a ‘dodgy’ provider.

The biggest thing I ask of you tonight, in the wake of this most recent collapse, is to keep in mind that there are hundreds of people who, right now, have no clear idea about their future, aren’t sure how long they will have jobs for and are feeling very vulnerable.

And all this on top of the fact that they, in their own sphere of influence, have most likely been doing the best job they know how to, in the context they find themselves, equipped with the tools they have.

Let’s be sure now to make sure we are talking in known facts, in certainty, rather than making assumptions and overlooking people with remarkable skills, just because of where they have been working in the past.

There are some real gems out there! Indeed, what may be one organisations loss, might just be your massive gain.

So where are we now, at the end of 2015?

Just where we always are at the end of the year.

I have bene reflecting that this sector can be tough. It can be bewildering and frustrating and complicated.

But it is often the most inspiring, uplifting, positive, life changing sector out there.

So go on. Buck the trend, Lift the game, but please, whatever you do, don’t give up on it. Don’t give in.

Don’t compromise.

Keep going.

Be determined.

Keep Achieving great things.

Focus on that – and you will have amazing success

And PLEASE don’t forget to come back here to these events next year, and to the media, and celebrate really, really loudly those things that make our sector great.