CEO-elect to lead national expansion of industry school group

The Australian Industry Trade College (AITC) has announced the appointment of Lee Smith, current AITC Executive General Manager, as the CEO-elect to lead and scale the education group nationally to meet the demand of both young people and industry. 

Through a unique industry-driven model, Years 10 to 12 students at the independent school spend 40% of a year receiving a work-ready high school education, with the remainder of the year spent in vocational training or a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship. 

The AITC is at an exciting juncture in its evolution, having expanded to six schools in the last five years, with over 1,200 young people now pursuing an industry-driven pathway. The College offers six Academy programs and has recently committed to a 10-year strategic plan of significant scale and growth; of which Lee was a key architect and contributor. 

The decision to appoint the current Lee to CEO won’t come as a surprise to those who know him in industry and the education sector, having advocated for industry and education for 25 years in both the United Kingdom and Australia. 

With his strong commitment to high performance, quality, and strong culture, Lee has an ambitious vision to build on the direction, momentum and ethos of the College. 

“I’m both delighted and excited to have been appointed as CEO-elect at the AITC. The College’s success over the last 18 years has undeniably been unprecedented; placing thousands of young people in apprenticeships and technical pathways across Queensland. 

“Having listened carefully to industry’s needs, it is clear that Australia requires a pipeline of technically talented young people more than ever, so moving into this next chapter the AITC will scale both the breadth and size of its offering,” added Lee. 

“I will ensure that our College will become synonymous with high quality industry education and is the leader and first choice across Australia for those seeking to employ or become the highest calibre of apprentice.” 

The search for a new CEO began shortly after AITC founder, Mark Hands, announced his retirement late last year. 

The AITC Board undertook an extensive recruitment process attracting expressions of interest across Australia; a strong endorsement of the reputation the College has developed as an industry-driven innovative educational institution. 

Board Chair, Ric Roach, showed great confidence in the new appointment stating, “Lee will provide the Australian Industry Trade College with the ongoing leadership required to continue our ambitious strategy whilst building positive relationships with staff, young people, families, industry partners, and government”. 

The AITC Board acknowledged and commended the defining legacy created by founder and retiring CEO, Mark Hands, over the last 18 years. 

When asked about his successor, Mark said “The AITC has never been in a better position to lead by example on how to connect great young people with industry. Lee has been instrumental in the maturity and scale of the AITC over the past 5 years, and I am extremely confident that Lee will lead the AITC to national success.” 

Lee will commence in the CEO role in late 2024.