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A high school student's TAFE NSW hack to a healthcare career fast track

A high school student's TAFE NSW hack to a healthcare career fast track

As year 12 students head back to school, Central Coast teen Gemma Szabo has already kick-started her healthcare career as a trainee Assistant in Nursing (AIN) through TAFE NSW while completing her HSC.


The 17-year-old Gosford local has already clocked in a year of working at Peninsula Villages, an aged care facility in Woy Woy, while working towards completing her HSC.


“Learning about the different kinds of communication skills and practicing active communication with residents has improved my work and I am thriving at my job.


“The Work Health and Safety (WHS) knowledge from the course also helped me a lot with managing the residents as well as staff’s health and safety at Peninsula Village,” Gemma said.


The 2022 Skills Priority List has revealed that there is a national shortage in the aged care workforce with the National Skills Commission forecasting a strong skills demand in future.


Peninsula Villages is a not-for-profit aged care provider that has partnered with TAFE NSW Central Coast to provide full-time Year 11 or 12 high school students with the opportunity to undertake accredited vocational education and training as part of their HSC studies.


“My course taught me infection prevention and control, work health and safety practices, communication skills and more.


“When Peninsula Villages had an outbreak of COVID-19, I was able to implement precautionary measures I had learnt which included proper hand washing techniques, wiping down surfaces in areas residents have been, and most importantly PPE best practice, which involves changing your PPE with each resident visit to help stop the spread of Covid in the facility,” Gemma said.


“I have applied the skills I have learnt at TAFE NSW and used them at work, as it is a hands-on job, it’s important to apply these skills in the workplace to prevent any virus spreading.”


The TAFE NSW Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) offers real-world experience with 120 hours of work placement. Students gain practical experience and develop specialist skills in industry-standard employability skills. In addition to attaining a First Aid certificate upon course completion, students can establish their professional networks, build relationships with employers, or pursue further study in healthcare.


According to Kathleen Trott, Teacher and Assessor, Age Care and Disability at TAFE NSW Central Coast, the School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships (SBATs) enable students to explore a meaningful career pathway as aged care assistants via a customised training program.


“TAFE NSW is delivering a pipeline of workers to meet the growing demand for skilled aged care workers by providing high quality, industry-recognised training to equip workers for the jobs of the future,” Ms Trott said.


Inspired by her family who all work in the healthcare sector, Gemma is aiming for further study at TAFE NSW to attain a Certificate IV in Aged Care and work her way up as an Enrolled Nurse (EN).


“My dad is a phlebotomist; my mum is in admin at a hospital and my sister is in her second year of university training to becoming a Registered Nurse (RN),” Gemma said.


Studying for the HSC while working towards a TAFE NSW accredited tertiary education pathway comes with its challenges. The ‘welcoming and supportive environment’ at TAFE NSW, according to Gemma, set her up for academic and on the job success.


“There are people there to support you if you are falling behind, and it is a welcoming environment for you to ask for help anytime, all of the staff are very respectful and supportive of your challenges and will help you when you need it.”


Gemma has proudly credited TAFE NSW and the training staff at Peninsula Villages where she has been working once a week with providing a supportive learning experience.


“Don’t hesitate to start a course because you think it might be too much of a challenge.”


“Studying with TAFE NSW has prepared me well for my job and has supported me to tackle any challenges I have faced in the workplace,” Gemma concluded.



Media contact: Nastasha Tupas, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7920 5000.