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Making a career change in a new country

Shahin Malekizadeh moved to Australia and made a career change from architecture to estimating after studying at TAFE Queensland.

When Shahin Malekizadeh left Iran, he held a Master’s Degree in Architecture and more than a decade of industry experience ranging from residential to large scale commercial projects, including the Tabriz Women's Hospital and other huge projects. When he realised his experience and qualifications were not recognised in Australia, Shahin chose to re-educate himself at TAFE Queensland and enter the construction industry in a new role.

Before he made this choice Shahin took a job for a shopfitting company designing shop interiors, but did not find the passion he had experienced with architecture in this role.

“After all that wasn’t me, because I have spent most of my professional life on site, I am talking about almost 13 years,” Shahin explained.

This was what spurred him on to investigate his study options. Shahin found that if he was to enter the Australian construction industry he would need to re-train.

“It was really tough when I moved here because you know almost all of the companies and employers here are looking for local experience and education.”

Once he enquired, Shahin found TAFE Queensland’s staff to be very helpful in helping him choose the ideal course.

“I did the research about construction courses here, and James and Andrew from TAFE helped me a lot to make a decision on a suitable course,” said Shahin, referring to TAFE Queensland Advanced Building Studies teachers, James Emilien and Andrew Howarth.

The course Shahin chose was the Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) (CPC50210), with James to become his teacher. Like many TAFE Queensland teachers, James’ relationship with his students goes further than the classroom, including linking employers to students who would fit well into their team.

Mr Emilien was thoroughly impressed with Shahin’s learning and put him in touch with his current employer, Hewitson Homes, which helped Shahin secure funding for the remainder of his course through Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ), while also supplying Hewitson Homes with a great new member for their team. Shahin moved to Townsville for his new role and was relieved to receive this CSQ funding.

“It was really good because it’s not easy to cover all of the living and study costs at the beginning of a career and it helped me a lot to finish this course,” he said.

Thanks to collaborative efforts from CSQ and TAFE Queensland to fund and provide high-quality training, Shahin has been able to successfully re-train to enter the construction industry as an Estimator and Building Designer.

This is different to the Shahin’s previous career in architecture but does share similarities, with Shahin particularly happy to still design in his new vocation.

While he is currently enjoying his work which is predominantly on residential projects, Shahin has not ruled out the possibility of further study and a return to the commercial sector.

“I’m looking forward to elevate my career to commercial and work for a bigger company or myself but I’m really happy doing estimating.”