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Post-pandemic career change leads to success for TAFE NSW landscape design graduate


A TAFE NSW graduate has won a national industry award less than two years after changing careers and becoming a landscape designer.

More than 10,000 jobs are forecast to be needed in the gardening industry between 2021 and 2026, with landscape architect and designer roles forecast to grow by almost 17% over that period. TAFE NSW is delivering a pipeline of workers to meet that demand through its range of horticulture and landscape design courses.

Brenda Mancuso spent 18 years working in consumer insights in the corporate sector and during the COVID-19 pandemic started considering a career change.

After studying a Diploma of Landscape Design at TAFE NSW, Ms Mancuso has now been awarded a silver medal in the Emerging Designers category of the Landscape Design Institute’s national awards.

“I feel privileged to have landed in an industry that is so collaborative, generous and supportive. To be recognised in this way means a lot to me,” Ms Mancuso said.

Ms Mancuso’s journey into the landscape design industry started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the lockdowns I really found myself valuing the green spaces we had even more and so I decided to take the plunge and explore becoming a landscape designer,” Ms Mancuso said.

“I knew nothing about landscape design; in fact, I knew very little about horticulture. It was scary going from a well-paid and secure job into the unknown. However, with the support of my TAFE NSW teachers and interesting, well-structured content, I quickly gained confidence that I had made the right decision.

“I was somewhat confident in my existing communications and people skills from my previous career, but my course gave me the practical and theoretical knowledge I needed to start working in the industry once I graduated. The landscape design diploma gave me the well-rounded skills I needed to position myself where I wanted to be in the industry.”

After graduating from TAFE NSW, Ms Mancuso started working with a landscape design company while also being approached to do private design jobs.

“Eventually I decided to go out on my own and nurture my own business, Sundays Landscape Design,” Ms Mancuso said.

“I am so proud of the success of my business so far and look forward to seeing it grow further. Taking the leap into a new career can be daunting, but with a passion for creating beautiful spaces, coupled with the skills I’ve learned through TAFE NSW, I’m excited to see where this new path will take me.

“For anyone considering a career change, I recommend taking the leap.”

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Landscape Design, Andrew Hewitt, said it is a career in demand.

“Landscape design is an exciting and dynamic career that’s experiencing considerable growth. Through TAFE NSW we’re providing the practical skills graduates need to secure a job and help meet industry demand,” Mr Hewitt said.

“Our students come from different life and career stages. We pride ourselves on supporting all our students who are building or changing careers to get their foot in the door in the industry to help them thrive.

“Examples like Brenda highlight how our graduates are helping meet the need for workers in the landscape design industry and how valuable a TAFE NSW education is in providing the skills they need to get the job they want.”

Media contact: Rob Virtue, Communications Specialist,