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50 is the new student

TAFE NSW Newcastle

50 is the new student

20 March 2019

As Central Coast local Cathie Renfrew looks back over the last year, her first in her 50s, she beams with pride. Cathie has just secured her first full time job in 25 years thanks to completing a course at TAFE NSW.

As a 50th birthday present to herself at the beginning of 2018, single mum Cathie decided to give herself the gift of knowledge and enrolled in Certificate IV in Marketing and Communication at TAFE NSW Newcastle. It didn’t take long for her efforts to be recognised. The day after her 51st birthday she was offered her dream job, as a senior project officer in the secondary schooling education sector, based in Sydney.

Cathie said, “My 50th birthday present was to give myself 12 months to work out ‘what I wanted to do when I grew up’, which included studying full time at TAFE NSW, and then I got the call that literally has changed my life. It turns out that enrolling was definitely the best decision I have made.”

On average, every Australian will change jobs 2.4 times over the next two decades, driving a greater need for upskilling and reskilling.* Cathie is well aware of the benefits of topping up your occupational expertise.

“It's never too late to give yourself opportunities to go in a different direction!” she said

“My time at TAFE NSW enabled me to enhance existing industry skills and knowledge, and gain confidence, which you can tend to lose as you get older. I actually wanted to do the Diploma of Marketing and Communication but the Certificate IV was a pre-requisite, and I was blown away by how much I learned

“Class activities and assessments were all extremely relevant and practical. I literally used new knowledge from my course from day one in my new job. I often refer back to course notes and assessments in my new role as they were THAT relevant to a 'real' workplace. The TAFE NSW teachers’ input from their recent industry experience was instrumental in that... you can only learn so much from text books; theoretical content is only one aspect of learning and TAFE NSW provides fantastic practical, hands-on experience.

“It was the best time, I loved it. I gained so much from my teachers. Most of all it was their passion, energy, and care to ensure we walked away with learnings that we could transfer to the workplace.”

Cathie is delighted to have made her children proud with her new qualifications, an award she won during her course (the Business Services Marketing and Communication Course Award) and her new senior role.

“My kids are really pleased and proud of me, which makes me a bit teary. 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. They know I’ve always valued education and they could see how much passion and enthusiasm I had for my studies,” she said.

“TAFE NSW just made it so easy for me as a mature age student. I loved the fact I was just one of the class, and that was my approach too. I was very mindful given I’d been a trainer at one point years ago. 

“As I will no longer be using after-hours to stay on top of multiple jobs, I will soon use my train travel time to my new job for online study - through TAFE NSW of course. The support it offers sets you up to learn and succeed, it’s so valuable as a foundation for further learning. And I am determined to get that diploma!”

The Certificate IV in Marketing and Communications can be studied face to face in Newcastle or Sydney or online via TAFE Digital. For more detail on TAFE NSW courses visit or call 131 601.



Media contact: Kristy Sheppard, TAFE NSW Media & Communications Business Partner, 4923 7784 or 0407 450 860.