Stephen Allison lost his livelihood following a workplace injury in 2010. Damage to his shoulder prevented him from carrying out the manual labour required by his welding job of 10 years. Now the 59-year-old Tinana local has the opportunity for a fresh start through the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program at TAFE Queensland.
Stephen spent eight long years enduring medical procedures in the hopes of repairing his shoulder damage. When it became clear the damage was irreparable, he spoke to his work provider Mission Australia to discuss options for getting back into the workplace. They suggested he enrol in a course that would teach him new skills he could use to gain employment.
“I couldn’t go back to welding, so he referred me to the SEE program at TAFE Queensland’s Maryborough campus, because it offers the opportunity to learn skills in computing,” Stephen said.
“The idea was for me to learn new skills that would help me find work in a call centre, as that wouldn’t involve heavy manual work, so I decided to sign up.”
The SEE Program is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. It provides up to 650 hours of free language, literacy and numeracy training to eligible job seekers. The course provides practical skills tailored to participants’ abilities, goals and interests.
When Stephen first started the program in May 2018, he was uncertain of how much he’d be able to achieve. But with the support of his teachers he persisted and is now on track to complete a Certificate III in Business Administration (BSB30415).
“After the first week of classes, I went home and said to my wife, ‘There’s no way I’m going to learn any of this.' When I first started, it took me two minutes to type my name because I couldn’t find the keys,” Stephen said.
“My teacher kept encouraging me and telling me to keep practicing, so I was determined to master typing and learning computer programs. I started on a word processing unit, which I finished faster than expected, so the teacher just kept enrolling me into more business administration units,” he said.
“Now I look back to 12 months ago and I am so glad that I persevered with the course, because I’ve finished all bar one unit. I’ve even discussed what other units are available with my teachers, as I want to keep learning more at TAFE Queensland so I can gain more skills to enhance my job opportunities.”
Through plenty of determination, Stephen has managed to build his skills and his confidence. But says he couldn’t have done it without the support of his teachers.
“TAFE Queensland is a very flexible learning environment that caters for individual learning styles, and the teachers are so helpful, understanding and accommodating,” Stephen said.
“They went above and beyond to help me and make sure I was comfortable, and I can’t thank them enough.”