: DOWN TO EARTH: Albury career changer Monique Barry is living proof of how a TAFE NSW qualification can change your professional outlook.
An Albury mum who ditched her corporate career to pursue her passion for gardening has credited TAFE NSW with helping bring her dream to life.
At age 37 and with a successful career in real estate and insurance behind her, Monique Barry took a professional leap of faith and completed a Certificate IV in Permaculture at TAFE NSW National Environment Centre in Thurgoona.
The gamble paid off and Mrs Barry this year launched her own gardening business, and is “booked solid”.
Mrs Barry’s story comes amid a COVID-induced explosion in interest in gardening careers, as many locked down residents discovered a passion for horticulture.
Meanwhile, the Australian Government’s Job Outlook has projected the gardening services industry is set for strong growth in the next three years, generating annual revenue of nearly $3 billion by 2024.
Mrs Barry said her career pivot to horticulture was one of the best decisions of her life.
“It’s been an amazing experience and I really feel like I’ve found my tribe and my calling,” she said.
“The teachers were so knowledgeable and had so much industry experience, and it was a perfect mix of hands on, practical skills and theory.”
Mrs Barry said her TAFE NSW qualifications helped her get a flying start with her small business.
“I built a great network through TAFE NSW and that has really helped,” she said.
“I’ve got so much work at the moment and it’s all word of mouth.
“I get excited about helping people, listening to their story and working to achieve their goals. It’s a perfect match and mutually beneficial. There are so many people that need connections to community out there.
“I just pinch myself every day because I can’t believe I’m getting paid for something I love.
“I tell everyone to take a risk, follow their passion and study something at TAFE NSW.”
TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Agroecology Rob Fenton said the pandemic had caused a seismic shift in how gardening careers were viewed.
“COVID has made many people pause and see gardening as a career or an important part of their lives,” Mr Fenton said. “People are reevaluating and connecting back to things that are real.”
“Whether it’s setting up your own business, like Monique, or just wanting to learn more about maximising your green space, a TAFE NSW horticulture qualification is a great starting point.”
To learn more about studying at TAFE NSW, call 131 601 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au
Media contact: Dan Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, mobile 0477 722 428