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NEW BEGINNINGS: TAFE NSW Young graduate Jess Hardman has credited TAFE NSW Young community services teacher Andrew Bailey with helping her turn her life around.
A Young mum whose life has been punctuated by hardship has thanked TAFE NSW for allowing her to channel her experience into a rewarding career helping others.
Jess Hardman, 26, has endured her share of challenges in the past but has this month landed her dream role as a recovery and rehabilitation worker.
After having a career working in the meat industry, Ms Hardman had her first child just shy of 25. Shortly after she made the decision to leave an unhealthy relationship and move to NSW with family.
A yearning to help vulnerable people led her to enrol in a Certificate IV in Community Services course at TAFE NSW Young this year, where she has thrived.
“I’ve always wanted to help others and better understand how people’s brains tick,” Ms Hardman said.
“I particularly wanted to help people who had experienced disadvantage in their lives and I could relate to.
“I was extremely anxious at the prospect of study but I had a child I needed to provide for and I knew continuing a career in the meat industry wasn’t what I wanted. Community mental health has always been a passion of mine and studying at TAFE NSW was a way for me to get my foot in the door.”
The community services industry is the largest employing industry in Australia, with about 1.7 million people working in the sector in 2020, a number that is expected to grow to 1.9 million by 2024.
Ms Hardman said she felt emotional on her first day at TAFE NSW Young hearing the stories of her classmates, many who had also endured hardship in their lives.
“It was a life-changing experience and I can’t advocate for TAFE NSW strongly enough,” she said.
“Our teacher Andrew was amazing: so supportive, patient and motivating. And his experience in the industry meant there were so many personal stories he could relay.”
Ms Hardman admitted she was surprised to be offered three jobs immediately after graduating this month, opting for a position in mental health recovery and rehabilitation with Wellways in Young.
“I was shocked my skills were in such demand,” she said.
She now aims to complete a Diploma of Community Services through TAFE NSW and later a degree.
TAFE NSW Young Community Services Teacher Andrew Bailey said Ms Hardman was another example of where the practical skills and training offered by TAFE NSW can take you.
“Jess came in with no exposure to community services but with a lot of life experiences,” he said. “She was anxious and down on confidence, and to watch her grow into a well-skilled practitioner is the best feeling you can have as a teacher.
“She now has the skills to not just change her own life, but to change the lives of lots of other people.
“The community services sector is the biggest boom industry in the Hilltops region and possibly Australia.”
Mr Bailey said TAFE NSW Young was offering a Certificate III, IV and Diploma of Community Services for semester one, 2021.
To find out more about enrolling in a community services course at TAFE NSW, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.