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The aviation family of TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW Wollongbar and Kingscliff

The aviation family of TAFE NSW

In a tourism-heavy region like the NSW North Coast it makes sense for those looking to start, refresh or change their careers to explore options in related industries. The aviation industry, which underpins Australian business and tourism and has an estimated annual revenue of $43.54 billion*, is one.

Already an industry that employs more than 88,000 people, employment demand is rising. Recent TAFE NSW research** shows 71% of aviation employers have recently reported a skills shortage over the past 12 months. The top five occupations reported as being in shortage are: 1. Trainers/Instructors of all types, 2. Pilots, 3. Maintenance Engineers/Technicians, 4. Avionic/Software Engineers and 5. Aerodrome Reporting Officers.

Ballina local Melissa Strong and her daughters are well aware of the fantastic career opportunities. Melissa is an Aviation Protection Officer at Ballina airport and a TAFE NSW aviation teacher, while three of her daughters work for big airlines.

All four studied at TAFE NSW Wollongbar.

Melissa said with job prospects in rural areas being limited she would like to encourage people of all ages to take-up learning opportunities at TAFE NSW Wollongbar and Kingscliff that can lead to a great career in aviation.

“There are so many job opportunities available in aviation, and taking flight is only one small area,” she said.

“Employment potential is growing, with the industry booming. Lower priced fares make travel affordable to many more Australians. Anyone looking to begin, refresh or change careers can consider roles across transport protection and supervision, cargo services, drone piloting, cabin crewing and ground operations, to name a few.

“As for me, I had always wanted to work in aviation but thought I was too old at 47. I’d been in customer service for 11 years and wanted a change so I looked through TAFE NSW courses – both online and face to face – and aviation popped out. I completed the Certificate IV in Aviation Supervision in 2014 and scored my aviation protection job then decided I wanted to teach too, so I did the relevant study to be qualified there to do that.

“I love to talk about aviation, I love being part of it. It is super exciting to play a role in an industry that means people can travel and get to know the world.

“And now three of my four daughters are in aviation we speak the same language. Sabine is a Tigerair flight attendant based at Brisbane airport, Shelby is a Jetstar Airways flight attendant based at Newcastle airport and Sunny is a check-in agent for Oceania Aviation, which has the contract to manage Jetstar flights at Ballina.

“We’re all in aviation but I didn’t facilitate any of their job offers, not through connections or anything. I’m so proud of them making their own way, setting themselves up for terrific careers… and discounted staff travel!”

Industry connections is another good reason to consider studying at TAFE NSW. The organisation has built strong, close relationships within the aviation sector that benefit local students – providing them with exposure to big companies around Australia and therefore big work opportunities.

These relationships extend internationally, so in recent times students have been able to travel to countries like Canada (Montreal), the US (Dallas) and Singapore to explore large aviation facilities.

Further, TAFE NSW has the hold on aviation transport protection security training. Very few education providers offer it because regulations are stringent and trainers are very rare; they need to come from industry.

Melissa said, “One of the most important aspects about all of TAFE NSW training is that we provide realistic learning experiences in simulated environments.”

“Our live-site training includes an operating x-ray machine, security screening point and a purpose-built simulated aircraft cabin. We also enjoy the privilege of aviation industry speakers imparting their knowledge to our students and we undertake regular excursions to local airports.”

“Local opportunities can be available for many who study hard and use their TAFE NSW teachers’ ability to direct, guide and translate job openings and potential. And if you’re prepared to look beyond local, opportunities exist on a broader scale especially once you are educated. Some larger companies require aviation qualifications as a pre-requisite for any employment consideration.

“The sky really is the limit with the right direction and skills.”

Australia’s largest training provider, TAFE NSW offers aviation courses and has strong connections with big industry players that can help its students secure great roles. Visit or call 131 601.



** Research conducted by TAFE NSW Strategy in September 2018 using the Burning Glass Technologies’ Labour Insight™ Real-time Labour Market Information tool and Deloitte Access Economics Forecasts