HERE’S CHEERS: TAFE NSW Bega has helped a former deep sea diver retrain into the in-demand hospitality industry.
A Cobargo pensioner who spent decades working abroad as a high-risk diver has credited TAFE NSW with helping him plunge into a new career at age 69 – as a barman.
Glen Stewart returned to Australia in 2018 after more than 20 years as a commercial saturation diver on offshore marine installations and life support technician on off-shore oil rigs, living 600 feet underwater in chambers for days on end.
Mr Stewart decided to look for part-time work to supplement his age pension in the high-demand hospitality industry, completing a Certificate III in Hospitality at TAFE NSW Bega this month.
Before even graduating he secured two jobs: as a barman at the Cobargo Pub and as a waiter at Sweetwater Smokehouse and Grill.
It comes amid strong demand for hospitality staff on the Far South Coast as the tourism industry recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.
“I moved to the area initially to volunteer with Blaze Aid but soon realised the age pension wasn’t enough for me,” Mr Stewart said.
“Because of my age, I couldn’t do really physical work and I didn’t mind the sound of hospitality. I chose TAFE NSW because I knew getting a qualification would put me in the front seat for jobs and give me great job security.”
The TAFE NSW Bega Multi Trades Hub boasts a new, state-of-the-art commercial kitchen and a functioning training restaurant, The Barracks.
Mr Stewart said his TAFE NSW teachers’ vast industry experience and the hands on nature of the training had created an ideal learning environment.
“It’s all those little nuances of the job they know from their experience in the industry,” he said. “Little details like table orientation, ironing the tablecloths and putting hand-written dockets in through the pass.
“And to have an actual restaurant to train in means it’s very hands-on, just like the workplace.”
He said he was now considering enrolling in a Diploma of Hospitality at TAFE NSW to further boost his skills and employability.
Mr Stewart has also benefited from recent changes to the age pension which means the first $300 of fortnightly income from work is now not counted under the pension income test.
TAFE NSW Bega Head Teacher of Hospitality Deirdre Jory said TAFE NSW was working closely with the local hospitality industry to provide a pipeline of job-ready workers like Mr Stewart.
She said to help engage younger locals into the industry, TAFE NSW was currently offering free training to people aged 16 to 24 to gain the practical skills to launch a career or land a job for summer in high-demand industries, such as hospitality, as part of the Summer Skills program.
Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0477 722 428