Changing careers

Published: 21st June 2010
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Everybody does it!

Ronald Reagan did it, Paul Hogan did it, and even Paul Keating did it. And it is not limited to celebrities. Every day people are doing it all the time, Changing careers!

Ronald Reagan was an actor and became a politician, Paul Hogan was a maintenance worker on the Sydney Harbor Bridge and became an actor, and Paul Keating used to manage a band before entering politics.

In today's society it seems the thing to do. Education systems across the world often force us to make career choices at an early age, sometimes with less than desirable results. It is not uncommon for students to change their study path in midstream. They are the lucky ones. They realized that they were on the road to become something they did not want to be. Others are not so fortunate. They start work often not knowing what it is they are looking for. Some get jobs in areas they land into by coincidence.

" I worked at Target because the job was vacant and it was the only job I could find" Ryan Teeuwsen from Noble Park, then a school graduate, explains.

" I finished High school not really knowing what to do. " he said.

Ryan worked at Target for 1 ½ years before he realized she was at the wrong place.

"I needed to do something I was interested in," he said.

He went back to study electronics and now he works as an audio visual support officer at Swinburne University TAFE division in Wantirna and "loves it".

Ryan is just one of many workers who 'got it wrong' initially but was fortunate enough to correct the choice. Migrants often 'get it wrong' too. According to the Overseas Qualification Unit a large number of migrants who arrived in Australia over the last 30 years have changed their careers. Reasons for these are many.

A person might be an experienced engineer but if he can not master English, a job will often not be found. But far the most heard reason is the problem encountered with recognition of qualifications. Doctors, architects, nurses, machinery operators, teachers, in fact many professions today, all need qualifications that are recognized in Australia. Australia has to compare its education standards and qualifications with lots of other countries around the world. How do they compare?

"It is a very hard thing to do," says Inaam Barakat advisor at the Overseas Qualification Unit.

"E.g In some countries you can study medicine and become a General Practitioner in less years than it would take you here," she said.

"To make sure that people are up to Australian standards we have to test people and their abilities," she said.

"In other words their qualifications are compared against our national guidelines."

Information from the 1991 sensus shows that an average of 63% of migrant qualifications are recognized by the Australian Government. The remaining 37% sometimes are offered a chance to sit for a number of exams to prove they have the skills and knowledge required.

This is the case in many professions. Paul Martin came from Holland 20 years ago as a qualified architect.

"I studied architecture for seven years and when I got into Australia they did not recognize my qualifications," Paul said.

"I was flabbergasted because to obtain similar qualifications here one could do it in less than that," Paul explained.

"There must be something wrong with the system," he added.

Indeed this could be the case. Inaam Barakat explains:

" We have good reasons for this" she said.

" Some countries do not recognize our graduates so Australia can not except their graduates. It is all a bit tit for tat I am afraid," she said.

Paul did not want to sit for exams again.

"I had enough of studying in those days, I wanted to travel a little more to let things settle down" he said.

Paul since has gone on to become involved with the film/video industry.

"It still is in the creative area and I am happy now that I have changed, but who knows what I would have been doing if my qualifications were recognized back then," he said.

Paul and Ryan are just two cases where a change occurred for the better but there are good indications that people who change careers often find themselves happier with their jobs than before. In the mean time students are well advised to be flexible and when in doubt about taking the wrong direction, not to hesitate to do a U-turn. As for migrants coming to this country a word of advice from Inaam.

" It is always a good idea to consult the local Australian Embassy or Consulate to check the status of your qualifications before making a decision to move here. It can avoid a whole range of difficulties." she said.


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