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Khaled goes from working in hotels to constructing them

After working in high-end hotels for nine years, and with a desire to live abroad, Khaled Zitouni moved from France to Australia where he joined TAFE Queensland to study the Associate Degree in Civil Engineering (HED001).

“I wasn’t getting a sense of achievement from working in hospitality – every shift felt like a grind and I couldn’t see myself staying in that industry long term,” explained Khaled.

After thinking about where he wanted to take his career, Khaled decided to explore turning his passion for building design into a profession.

“I’ve always been attracted to buildings, but studying architecture didn’t appeal to me as it was too long and too expensive — but then I discovered engineering,” explained Khaled.

“It was unexpected, but the more I researched the profession the more I was drawn to the different scientific take on buildings that I had an interest in,” he said.

After researching study options in his new home of Australia, it made sense that he study with TAFE Queensland, as the engineering course ticked all the boxes for him.

A key reason he decided to enrol with TAFE Queensland was because the course wouldn’t take as long to complete as traditional university qualifications, enabling him to graduate and start working sooner.

“TAFE Queensland’s ties with the industry, reputation and the accreditation of the course from Engineers Australia also appealed,” continued Khaled.

What helped Khaled change his career and re-join the workforce sooner was the practical content taught in a hands-on environment by teachers from the industry.

“When I began studying with TAFE Queensland, I had no idea where it would take me or if I would like doing what I’m doing now,” he explained.

“But the civil design, drafting and structural design units gave me clarity on how my training would apply in the real world and taught me what to expect when working in the industry.”

“I view engineering as a way to solve puzzles, which I really enjoy, and I like having something tangible to show for my efforts at the end of a project,” he said.

On his way to completing his associate degree, Khaled’s technical skills and specialised knowledge of civil and structural engineering went from strength to strength.

While going back to study a completely different qualification in a new country wasn’t easy, Khaled said that his peers and teaching staff helped him through.

His teachers and classmates added to his immersion into the course, allowing him to upskill and develop his critical thinking and decision making while developing his design skills.

“The teachers would go out of their way to support their students — they’re one of the main reasons for my success.”

Throughout his course Khaled learnt skills in drafting, modelling, municipal and environmental engineering, project management and estimating skills — all in-demand skills employers are seeking.

Khaled graduated with TAFE Queensland’s Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence, awarded to the highest achieving graduate in the class. He praised the personal connections he made during his studies for helping him achieve educational success.

After finishing his studies, Khaled began work at a local structural engineering firm, a job he credits his course for helping him get.

“Training with TAFE Queensland enabled me to get a job and my learning hasn’t stopped. Every day I do more than my title suggests and I’m loving it.”

“I’m so happy to have found a career that gives me an immense sense of satisfaction and I’m seriously considering going to university to become a full-fledged engineer,” he said.

“The past two years were a great experience for me on so many levels and TAFE Queensland played such a crucial role in changing my life. I have gained a lot of valuable experience in the industry, and I’m proud to be able to call Australia home,” concluded Khaled.