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Wildlife science graduate Jenna Hayhoe was eager to start her career after finishing uni in 2019, but the devastating and widespread bush fires followed by the global COVID-19 pandemic forced her to take a new approach to achieve her career goals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us, uprooted our plans and for many, forced us to pivot or change careers.

Twenty-one-year-old wildlife science graduate, Jenna Hayhoe was eager to launch her career after finishing uni in 2019, but the devastating and widespread bush fires followed by the global COVID-19 pandemic forced her to take a new approach to achieve her career goals.

Jenna, who is now completing a light automotive apprenticeship at TAFE Queensland, said that she had no choice but to reassess her career options and explore a new pathway into her chosen field.

“As soon as I finished my university studies, everything hit. I applied for so many jobs and nothing came back. I even had volunteer jobs organised to get work experience but that all got cancelled with COVID-19,” Jenna said.

Having worked at her mum and dad’s Brisbane-based automotive workshop P & G Mechanical Repairs since she was 16-years-old, Jenna decided that getting her existing skills recognised would be her best option. An automotive trade qualification would also strengthen her chances of gaining future employment as a Park Ranger whilst giving her a stable career to fall back on.

“I decided to start an apprenticeship around the time of COVID-19 because I wanted to do something during this time that would really benefit me in the long-term,” Jenna said.

“Park Rangers need to be able to do maintenance on cars and small engines so my trade will really help me when I apply for jobs in the wildlife field,” she said.

Jenna’s parents have owned P & G Mechanical Repairs for over 18 years and while working in the family business can have its challenges, Jenna really appreciates the opportunity her parents have afforded her.

“This COVID-19 pandemic has taught me that a lot of people don’t have job security and I wanted to make sure that I had something to fall back on,” Jenna said

“Dad was happy for me to get my trade qualification as he wants me to have the skills to be independent in the future and be able to do stuff for myself. Everything I learn here is multifaceted which I can apply to other things, not just cars."

“It’s also something that I really enjoy, and while Dad’s around to teach me what he knows I may as well take benefit from it. There are also some benefits for Mum and Dad by employing a mature-aged apprentice so it’s a win-win for everyone,” she said.

Jenna’s years of experience in the workshop means she’s been able to apply for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), a process where her existing skills can be transferred as credits within her apprenticeship.

“There are about ten or so units that I might be able to get RPL for. A lot of the servicing aspects I have been doing for years so it’s great that I can shorten the length of my apprenticeship by getting recognition for what I already know."

“The remainder of the training that I need to complete, I can do at TAFE Queensland at a time that suits our business,” Jenna said.


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