For more than six years after completing Year 12 in 1999, Abdul Allouche flirted with his future with uncertainty and confusion.
In 2000, he enrolled at La Trobe University in a bachelor arts degree, stayed only one month and then moved on to Monash University at its Gippsland campus for a bachelor degree in psychology. Two months later, he jettisoned that study and decided to pursue an option in retail.
He completed a short course in Certificate II in Retail at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), worked in a clothing outlet for about two years, then realised he wanted and needed an altogether different career path.
As a young man who was following the Islamic faith more passionately, he then embraced the Arabic language and turned to its study for 12 months before travelling overseas to Syria and Saudi Arabia for three months to enhance his Arabic language skills.
At 25, and back in Melbourne, he still didn't know what he wanted to do, and tried to find a short course at NMIT that could help clarify his career choice.
Throughout his teenage years, Abdul, 26, of Preston, had acknowledged an artistic streak as part of his self, but didn't pursue his penchant for a more creative career until he consulted a teacher in cabinet-making/furniture making at NMIT's Heidelberg campus.
In 2006, he decided to enrol in a 16-week pre-apprenticeship in the trade as he felt inspired and excited by the training program and what it offered. He hasn't looked back since.
'I used to sand and paint wood when I was younger at home and never realised how much I enjoyed working with wood,' Abdul said. 'It was very satisfying to see what I could do and I found something in myself that I really liked that I'd completed.
'The pre-apprenticeship was terrific; it taught me a broad range of skills such as how to put wood together and the many ways of joining it all up. I didn't have any hand or power tools experience and learning that was a bonus.
'I was also able to be artistic with projects as I would add my own touch to the design like adding other bits of coloured wood where I could.'
During his study, Abdul realised he had finally found his career - 'it didn't take long to know this is for me.'
During his study, Abdul made a plant stand, a three-drawer bedside cabinet, a TV unit and a chopping board as his first assignment.
'It was so good to see a finished product and I wished I had been introduced to this years ago at school. I knew about trades such as mechanic, plumbing and electrical, but they weren't for me at all and I didn't know about a trade where I could use wood in a creative way.'
During Taste TAFE Week at NMIT between 6-10 August, Year 10, 11 & 12 secondary schools students will have the opportunity to engage in a three-hour taster session of their specific course of interest at NMIT's six campuses in Melbourne's northern region. It is designed to provide them with practical and real insights into what an NMIT course can offer them and what is involved.
Abdul said the pre-apprenticeship program was intense, focusing on constant mistakes, constant learning and then at the end, constant satisfaction.
'There was a good balance of theory and practice and I could work through the projects at my own pace.'
He said his aim in doing the pre-apprenticeship was to help him obtain an apprenticeship which was exactly what happened.
Abdul is now a second-year apprentice at Schots Home Emporium in Clifton Hill and said the pre-apprenticeship had changed his life.
'It's all fallen into place for me and I know this is what I want to continue with. I've already started collecting off-cuts of wood for my own making and my options for the future are so wide open. I think about starting my own business or working for an employer and making and selling my own designs on weekends. There's so much I can do.'
Abdul now attends NMIT one day a week as formal training and works on the job four days a week.
Inquiries for the NMIT Program: Tel: 9269-8605
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.
Interview / Photo Opportunity
Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener.