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Leila brushes up on her skills

Bundaberg teenager Leila Hepi-Tehuia is already on the path to a successful career in beauty, after getting a head start through the TAFE at School program.

For as long as she can remember, local Bundaberg teenager Leila Hepi-Tehuia has been drawn to all things beauty. From the creativity she's able to unleash with makeup, to the rewarding feeling that comes from pampering others and helping them feel good about themselves, Leila said she knew early on it was the perfect career for her.

“I’ve always loved beauty and how fun and uplifting it is,” Leila said.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than helping people, and it’s just so satisfying to see how you can transform someone — both in appearance and confidence.

“There are different paths you can take with it too, from makeup to beauty therapy and now even injectables. Having so many possibilities is exciting.”

Now at just 16 years of age, Leila is already well on the path to achieving her dream. As a former Bundaberg State High School student, Leila was presented with the opportunity to get a head start on her career through TAFE Queensland’s TAFE at School program — an initiative that enables high school students to undertake vocational training while they complete their senior schooling.

Having seen the Certificate II in Retail Cosmetics (SHB20116) on the list of study options, Leila jumped at the chance to swap one day of school a week to develop her skills and learn more about the industry.

“I thought it was the best thing ever that I could do this while I was still in school. It gave me the opportunity to study something I like and gave me insight into the industry and a taste of what I could expect working in it,” Leila said.

“I developed a genuine love for the industry as a result and my TAFE day became my favourite day of the week.”

Leila managed to gain casual employment as a receptionist and now retail assistant and makeup artist for Essence Spa and Beauty during her studies, which she said was hugely beneficial in enabling her to apply what she was learning.

“I love that I’ve been able to get first-hand experience in a salon before I'm even qualified — it means I get to see how a salon runs and adapt to that before I'm able to start doing treatments,” she said.

After completing her certificate II at the end of 2020, Leila now juggles work two days a week with fulltime study at TAFE Queensland’s Bundaberg campus. She is now set to complete her Certificate III in Beauty Services (SHB30115) come June 2021, and plans to enrol and upgrade to the Diploma of Beauty Therapy (SHB50115) the following semester — meaning she will be fully qualified by the end of the year.

“I’m so excited and I just want to get started on my career as soon as possible, so as soon as I found out full-time training was an option, I went for it,” Leila said.

“I just think it’s amazing that I can be so young and have all these qualifications and get a job that I love in beauty because of the TAFE at School program. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity — if you’re passionate about something and are thinking about doing it as a career, I would definitely recommend it.”

Leila’s dream of a career in beauty has been made even more achievable by the Federal and State Governments’ JobTrainer funding. The program assists eligible school leavers, young people and job seekers in entering high priority skills areas, like beauty, by enabling them to complete selected qualifications at no or low cost.

“I would have studied these qualifications anyway, but I’m so grateful to be able to access this funding,” she said.

“I’m only 16, so being able to complete my certificate III for free and my diploma at such a heavily discounted cost definitely takes the stress off so I can just focus on my studies.”

Leila is enthusiastic about her future in the industry and is looking forward to putting her skills into practice while working fulltime in the salon.

“I’m so excited to be able to give treatments, and I know my boss is keen to have me get started in that capacity too. It’s an amazing place to work, so I’m really looking forward to it.”