Travel with study to suit your needs

Travel with study to suit your needs

By Susan Burdett
28 Nov 2016

Val Bourke, student in Individual Support and Leisure & Health

It’s not every day that you find a course that can fund your travel!

Valerie Bourke has done that, and more.

Travelling via caravan with her husband after retirement and moving from interstate to be closer to family and grandchildren, Val also looked for employment but found her qualifications weren’t recognised out of her home state. Val thought about study to extend her employment options, and while she had always been interested in aged care, she hadn’t worked in the industry. So, on hearing about the Individual Support course, which has replaced the previous Aged Care and Home and Community Care courses, Val came to Wodonga TAFE and met the teachers.

“This just felt right”, said Val. “They impressed me – and I was hooked! Maybe it was because they were older and experienced in the field in which they were teaching…”

Val said that she’d left school after Year 10, and never thought she’d return to study. Property management and running her own business as well as looking after family were her priorities.

On enrolling and studying in the Certificate III in Individual Support, Val found that she loved the aged care component of the course, and discovered that she really enjoyed learning.

“Being able to complete assignments gave me confidence. My work had always relied heavily on time management and I was able to use those skills and apply them to assignments.”

“Succeeding at TAFE makes you realise what your strengths are.”

Val enjoyed studying on campus.

“It was great to use the LIRNspace study facilities right here. And good to be able to brainstorm with fellow students – with the range of people doing the course, I really enjoyed the variety of opinions and hearing different points of view.”

All students are required to complete placement hours as part of the Certificate III in Individual Support. This enables students to apply their learning in a supervised and safe environment, and also gives students many hours of hands-on experience in a workplace, which they can then add to their resume as real work experience in the industry. Val completed her placement with Westmont Aged Care, and found she had empathy and could relate to the clients, and understand their needs.

“I found this really rewarding – I have always liked people!” said Val. “We did placement in a residential facility, as well as home and community care placement.

Val found that placement often ended up with paid work opportunities, and said that placement was an important way to learn, and a great way to get into work.

“It also offers a good opportunity for both sides to see how things will work out - for you as a student to see if you like working in the industry or facility, and for employers to see if they think you may be suitable.”

“With so many hours of placement, you will have some experience when you do get work", explained Val. “Employers like it when you bring skills with you.”

Following on from her success in completing Certificate III in Individual Support in the first half of the year, Val then enrolled in the Certificate IV in Leisure and Health.

“This next course ties in closely with what we were doing, so I thought, ‘why not!’ It fits in with our travelling and also gives me all-round skills. A nationally recognised qualification is also important – I can find work wherever we are travelling and staying.”

“Now I have a lot of diversity in the jobs that I can get, such as working in a large residential aged care facility or smaller community facilities – or in home and community care. This qualification enables me to be flexible.”

”The Certificate III gave me skills in aged care, which led to casual work. Then Leisure and Health has led to more work.”

And in working towards the additional qualification in Leisure and Health, Val said it has been a big benefit to be more versatile.

“There is not a lot of competition for employment with those opportunities as not many people have the extra qualification”, she explained.

Val has also found that there is no shortage of work in this industry sector for older workers.

“I think employers value the older workers – they recognise that they have understanding and life experience that helps them engage with the clients.”

“I’m always on the go because of the caring involved and encouraging clients to take part in the activities that are going on around them.”

“So, there’s work in the disability sector, home care, personal care attendant, or further study such as nursing. This all leads to a lot of career opportunities!”

Val’s final word?

“You can always volunteer first – giving back to the community, and that’s a great way to gain more skills and find a work opportunity!”