Trade in your job for one you love
Age no barrier to change
WORKERS who think they have missed their calling by not pursuing a vocational career after high school should not assume it is too late. One in three apprentices and trainees are workers who have changed career when aged 25 or older, while one in 15 apprentices and trainees are aged 45 or older, data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research reveals. About 52,000 Aussies over the age of 24 started a new career through vocational training last year – 16,600 in a trade and 35,400 in a non-trade. Mature-age apprentices also earn about a third more than those starting out straight after school. A first-year mature-age electrical apprentice, for example, earns $19.42 an hour if they started when aged 21 or older, compared to $13.51 an hour for a school leaver. It means jobseekers do not have to fall back to earning a young person’s wage, while employers also see benefits from hiring an older career changer. Lewis Land Group leisure head Brad Jenkins said older workers tend to be more worldly and loyal and have a great work ethic from the get-go. The property developer is hiring hospitality workers as part of its Futures Employment Program, which equips participants with job-ready skills and a Certificate III in Hospitality, preparing them for entry-level work in the sector. “(Older participants) generally have got more empathy towards the customer as well,” Jenkins said. “They understand the customer experience probably better than the younger ones.” Jenkins said he welcomes all applicants to the program – young and old – as long as they can smile and move fast. “They have to move with a bit of urgency and smile at customers and be able to talk to people,” he said. “Even then, we have people who struggle at the start because they are shy but get better once they get exposure to people.” Alan Christopher, 62, undertook the training last year – completing two weeks of theory and two weeks of practical placement – before beginning a full-time job at the Belvedere Hotel in Redcliffe, Queensland. “It’s not just a job, it’s a family,” he said. “I care about the staff and the younger ones treat me like one of them despite the age gap.” Christopher used vocational training to end a bad luck streak as a jobseeker. Other Aussies use it to make a career change. Front Porch Properties founder Rachael Turner made the transition from teaching music to building and renovating homes. The university-trained classical pianist had been running a music school for 10 years when she decided to follow her passion for construction and design by enrolling in night school to complete a Diploma of Building and Construction. She said it is important for people to find a career they truly love that suits their personality. “Find something that completes you because if you are spending the main portion of your hours in a job, it’s important you are passionate about your work,” she said.