New full-time job marks an exciting new beginning
"IT'S never too late to give yourself opportunities to go in a different direction!"
That's Cathie Renfrew's wholehearted conclusion, having just completed a Certificate IV in Marketing and Communication at TAFE Newcastle and, the day after her 51st birthday, scoring her first full-time paid job in 25 years.
The need for lifelong learning has never been greater as longevity, retirement ages, job requirements and technology all increase.
On average, Australians will change jobs 2.4 times over the next two decades.
On the Central Coast, the number of workers aged 65-69 will increase by 3610 (or 13 per cent) and those aged over 70 by more than 2790 (or 20.1 per cent) over the next three years, according to TAFE NSW research (September 2018).
"Upskilling and reskilling is required to support this growth, meaning adult education will become far more important," a TAFE spokesperson said.
It means Cathie's experience in retraining at 50 or beyond is likely to become more and more the norm.
The way we gain our knowledge and skills is changing.
The average person today acquired more than 80 per cent of their knowledge and skills before the age of 21, according to a Future Skills Report commissioned by Google.
By 2040, 41 per cent of knowledge and skills will be acquired as adults, with average older Australians predicted to spend six hours a week in education and training.
Cathie said that as well as her actual learning, her course had allowed her to "gain confidence, which you can tend to lose as you get older".
"It was the best time; I loved it," she enthused, adding that what she had learnt had been easily transferable to the workplace from day one.
"My kids are really pleased and proud of me, which makes me a bit teary," she said.
"When I decided to study they said 'Great' because I was finally doing something for myself, after working various part-time jobs to fit in around them ... because that's what you do as a mother."
Cathie said she had not found her age to be a negative, being readily accepted as just another member of the class.
"TAFE NSW just made it so easy for me as a mature age student," she said.
In fact, even having gained employment, she's looking forward to more study and getting her diploma.
"My 50th birthday present was to give myself 12 months to work out 'what I wanted to do when I grew up'," Cathie said.
"It turns out that enrolling was definitely the best decision I have made."