Industry shortages of VET teachers in community services, Auslan, aged care, child care and mental health services means the time to train is now.
Like many visual artists, Annita Furey supported her creative work by teaching on the side for many years. But, eventually her desire to master her art took over her time and she stopped teaching for more than 15 years. “I was hopeful of finding a job, but I was a very mature age student so I thought, well who is going to employ me at my age. It turns out, I don’t think people are very concerned about the age, its about the skills.” It’s safe to say a lot changed in VET training from then to when she picked it up again and she quickly found she no longer had the qualifications to teach. “I went along to Melbourne Polytechnic and saw the administration assistant, she had to vet the incoming students to see if they had their Year 12, or if they had this skill or that.” “She said to me, ‘Look, I don’t think you are going to be suitable for this course, you really need to have basic computer skills.’” “I really didn’t have any computer skills, other than how to send an email.” The administration assistant sent her to the head of Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Ramona Younan who took at look a Annita’s expertise and experience and waved her through into the course. “She took me on, she had a hunch!” laughs Annita. “I basically ended up doing two courses at once, because I was on a steep learning learning curve with using a computer, while also tackling the Cert IV.”
On the right track
“I have to full credit to my teacher, Jasmina, who saw I was struggling… She would quietly come round after she’d explained the task to everyone else and while they were all tapping away, she’d put me onto the right page and that sort of thing.” Now, Annita’s proficiency with the computer has improved drastically. She uses them for the classes she teaches and recently while teaching Art History, her whole day of classes would be using a Powerpoint. Pretty good for someone who could barely send an email before completing the course. She also got a lot out of the Cert IV from a teaching perspective and it was an invaluable refresh on the skills she had developed earlier in life. “I learnt a lot of new things, the things that were most valuable to me were some of the policies about fairness, and assessment... The course did concentrate a lot on being diplomatic with students, and that’s something that needs to be reinforced particularly if you have not taught for a long time.” Going in to the course, Annita was hopeful the course would lead to employment, but she knew there was no guarantee. She was mostly concerned about her age.
Never too late to learn to train
However, she proved it is never too late to pass on your skills by finding employment, funnily enough, with Melbourne Polytechnic. “I’m teaching in the creative arts at Melbourne Polytechnic. I’d never met the person who employed me, but he’d heard of my reputation,” she laughs. Ramona Younan, who gave Annita the green light to do the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment says Annita started the course with some doubts. “She lacked confidence in her abilities, and any confidence there’d be any work at the end of the course and, now she is actually teaching for us. And, we get great feedback from the students, they love her.” “There was a real change in her once she started the course and meeting other people in the course and started building confidence, to the point now where she is actually knocking back work.” “There may be people who might not even think to take the first step and say, ‘Well, you know that’s it for me, I’m too old.” Whereas, actually, they probably have something to contribute, especially professionals or those with a trade that might not be able to do it anymore, for whatever reason.” Ramona says it’s a great time to get into VET training because changes to the course mean graduates from the Cert IV will have a better chance than ever of finding a job. Ramona highlights industry shortages of VET teachers in community services, Auslan, aged care, child care and mental health services. But, she encourages anyone with a desire to pass on their skills and knowledge, no matter their age, to complete a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Image: Monica Melton
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