by author

20 December, 2015

TAFE changed my life

By Elizabeth

TAFE changed my life. TAFE opened the way for me to also change many other lives. Mine is a very positive story. I hope it will give you some understanding of the great value of the TAFE system – to individuals and to the state, our society.

Although I was not a deprived woman, I had been a full time mother and had no prospects of being ‘anything’ once my children were no longer a fulltime job for me. At 41, I had just returned from temporarily living in the UK where I’d worked as a bar attendant and enjoyed, at last, the benefits of working and earning. No jobs were available to me on my return to Wollongong, despite all my efforts.

The Wollongong Campus of TAFE Illawarra advertised a pilot course for women to improve their chances of employment, specifically in areas of non-traditional ‘women’s work, and I was accepted as a student for the 6 month NOW course.

From that course, I gained brushed-up skills in communications, mathematics and science, and I learnt technical drawing. I was put through some amazing confidence building activities and assertiveness training. My TAFE teachers introduced me to the University of Wollongong and some of its lecturing staff, who in turn assured me that I could try for the mature-aged entry test – my highest educational achievement had been to almost get my Leaving Certificate in Victoria some 25 years earlier.

I now have a Bachelor of Arts, a Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary), a Master of Education (TESOL) and an Honours Master of Education (TESOL) and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment TAE40110 with LLN.

In the 27 years that I have now been a qualified teacher, I have never been out of work, nor have I had the humiliation of going hunting for work – as I had when I returned from the UK in 1982. I have taught in four TAFE Illawarra campuses, three AMES campuses, untold primary schools, and lectured on contract at two university campuses. I have presented at five university conferences and been published in TESOL journals and a book. I am currently teaching in the AMEP and in an ABE Unit of two TAFE campuses and have no desire to retire.

TAFE changed my life, as you can see. Can you imagine, though, how many lives I have been able to change? Every semester in TAFE I touch the lives of about forty students, with a different forty each semester so that perhaps eighty students gain from the skills and advantages that TAFE gave me, or that sprang from that original pilot course for women that I was so privileged to be accepted into.

When I initially attempted to write a positive TAFE story, I was thinking of all my students that I could have written about, whose lives have been changed by TAFE. I couldn’t decide which stories to use. Then I realised that I was the story! And my story springs from the investment in education by the government of the time – I paid no fees and was put under no financial stress.

My success - because of TAFE and its wonderful and dedicated teaching staff - has enabled and encouraged many other hopefuls. My success exemplifies to students just what TAFE can do for anyone who attends. I believe I am a living example of TAFE’s value to the individual and to the whole community.