If you were like me a couple of months ago and deemed not “essential” enough to remain employed, you probably hit up every Facebook job ad and ‘no experience required’ post known to man in the weeks that followed. I reckon I swallowed my pride so many times applying for supermarket and delivery gigs that my tonsils were about ripe for extraction. Anyway, before being thrown a life-vest by Scomo’s swift ‘LeaderSHIP’ (Jobseeker and Jobkeeper schemes), I found myself desperate to reel in any paying job or prospect I could latch onto.
On one occasion, I was actually fortunate enough to get a call back from a large recruitment agency suggesting I upskill by attending a TAFE course to better my employment opportunities. Considering this was my first reply that wasn’t a hard NO, I clung to it like mouldy cheese on an old toastie machine. After realising I probably wasn’t going to have a better chance of finding a job any sooner than the average course length of 6-8 weeks, I registered to attend the TAFE’s free information session. Despite being a paper-pushing, swivel-chair enthusiast at heart, this was my IN.
The session took place in a part town many wouldn’t venture to if not for very good reason. “Right next to Zambrero’s” were the directions given. And all in all, it was actually very insightful. As I sat there, 1.5 metres away from my nearest fellow job seeker, I realised I was much more entertained by the people in attendance than the courses being discussed. With my back against the wall and no government support forthcoming at the time, I listened to every word throughout the session.
I suppose what I’m saying is, if you’re looking to navigate a clear path ahead so you’re all set for when the Government turns the money tap off, consider attending a TAFE info session yourself. Here’s a list of memorable characters I encountered which should help you on your way.
Over-enthusiastic, swoll AF hype man
Tasked with introducing the presenters, courses and escorting you to the presentation room, this guy’s got more confidence in his right bicep than most men have in their ability to pee straight at night with the lights off. It can be daunting stepping foot into a new environment, especially a new area of study or work, so it’s important to be surrounded by people like this guy that’ll confidently tell you what IS possible, as well as what’s NOT.
Jaded 40-something who’s done his research
When you’re too scared to ask the hard-hitting questions, like “how much does this course REALLY cost?” the guy in the back who’s not afraid to share what he knows is really going to help you out. Many TAFE courses offer concession rates that vary according to your situation, so you can be sure ol’ mate carrying the weight of 20 years industry experience and an entire family on his shoulders is going to ask what you may not be willing to. He may hog question time, but this guy’s your hero.
Be prepared for this loose unit to stroll in 10 minutes late with bright green hair, or earlobes spaced so wide you could throw paper aeroplanes through them. Most of us think before we speak, but the sheer volume of unfiltered outbursts from this guy did in fact lead to some insightful discussions within the class. If you’re too afraid to ask the ‘dumb’ questions, hopefully he’s around to do it for you.
Mr. Industry Contacts
The first lecturer of the morning, this career-hardened journeyman pushed 65 and appeared ready to caravan around the country never to return. With an encyclopedia of industry contacts, he’s got the skills, know-how and connections to work almost every course offered, and probably has. It’s always helpful to hear from someone who has “been there, done that” and can directly help you achieve your goals. To be honest, it was a shame he only stuck around for 20 mins as he had a lot to say. Become a sponge when this guy is around. He’s the key into your preferred industry.
For those of you wondering about the lack of female representation in this short list, I can honestly say it’s due to the shockingly male-dominated attendance I experienced. While I have no clear reason why that would be, I can only hope the nation treats all workers according to their past experience, and not the gender they identify with, when the workforce gradually pieces itself back together.
I should probably also note that to this date I haven’t yet chosen to pursue a field of study at TAFE, or any other trade college to upskill for when all this is over. Call it pride, indecisiveness… even a false sense of security. But I’ll tell you what; being eligible to claim Jobkeeper, required to work occasionally and left with enough time to pursue your real passions is not the worst way to live.