‘Contactless’, ‘iso’, ‘social distancing’. New additions to the Merriam-Webster dictionary will undoubtedly share a mostly negative theme this year thanks to COVID-19, with perhaps one exception – ‘pivot’. Taking on a new context in 2020, business leaders, academics and economists are collectively encouraging job seekers, business owners and budding entrepreneurs to ‘pivot’ within their industries, vocations and careers, in order to address unprecedented changes in job security, caused by the global pandemic. TAFE Queensland student Bianca Martin has done just that.
“I moved to Toowoomba from Melbourne in 2019 seeking a tree-change whilst completing my Masters of Arts at USQ. With a background in arts events and with the nature of the industry as mostly contract based, I had a casual job in retail, with future plans to secure full-time work in communications, arts, or perhaps go to academia,” said.
COVID-19 interfered with Bianca’s immediate plans however as her retail job disappeared with social distancing and ‘stay-at-home’ directives, soon prompting her to entertain that ‘niggling’ voice inside her head, which had been quietly (but continuously) suggesting disability support as a career path.
“I was originally reluctant to pursue disability support having already spent a few years at university, however I knew that for those who’ve studied or had an interest in the arts that [disability support] can go hand-in-hand as a flexible and complementary career.”
After struggling to find any non-retail work Bianca began further investigating some ‘what if?’ options, and looked at the TAFE Queensland website.
TAFE Queensland had also "pivoted" – having created a vast number of flexible skill sets and micro-credentials in direct and immediate response to the impact of COVID-19 on job security. These courses were designed to enable workers that were stood down during the pandemic to gain new skills, and upskill existing workers to assist them to adapt to the changing demands of their workplaces, industries, and communities.
Bianca soon enrolled and then completed TAFE Queensland’s newly offered Community Care Skill Set (SSCHC0004) in June 2020.
“It became clear that coronavirus was a very serious thing that wasn't going to go away any time soon, and the future I had been paving for myself was definitely looking uncertain. After a lot of going back and forth I decided this was actually an ideal time to take the risk and have a total career change,” Bianca said about her ‘pivoting’.
“The Community Care Skill Set helped me learn and adapt to the TAFE teaching style. The skill set had three ‘Zoom’ classes per week, and I made those the days when I studied and did assessments.”
The Community Care Skill Set was fully subsidised (after meeting eligibility criteria), so Bianca did not have to pay for the online flexible course, and she walked away with entry-level essential and soft skills required to get started in the community and disability industries.
Bianca continued on from the skill set, and is now a month in to her Certificate IV in Disability (CHC43115), which she’s studying online, and will see her complete at the end of 2021.
“I'm really enjoying the course so far. I'm still only so new to it, but it feels good to be working toward something and to have a purpose after a few months of feeling really lost. I'm particularly excited to get into my vocational placement and get some hands-on experience," she said.
“It’s totally different to anything I've done before and it's making me really excited (and impatient) to actually get out there and work in that field.”
Bianca’s new end goal is to become a support worker who provides more than just the standard level of care, and has cited arts or music therapy as an option.
When asked if she had any advice for her peers, Bianca offers the following.
“I think this year has really shown that even the best laid plans can fall apart, and through no fault of your own! So, my best advice is to let yourself take the risk or take the opportunity when it does come up, because there's a great chance that it will end up being incredibly rewarding.”
TAFE Queensland’s ‘isolearn’ skill set and micro-credential training was designed in close consultation with both industry and government and is providing Queenslanders with valuable technical, digital and soft skills that will support people and businesses as they adapt and recover.
If, like Bianca, you are ready to ‘pivot’ for greater career stability, apply now in a range of micro-credentials and skill sets and see where TAFE can take you.