June 19th, 2017

In recognition of Refugee Week, SkillsOne celebrates the career success of two notable vocational education and training [VET] achievers, Jane Alia and Francine Ikirezi   

National VET Alumni member and finalist in the 2012 Australian Training Awards’ Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year Award, Jane Alia, arrived in Australia as a refugee from Uganda as a teenager. With a desire to understand more about healthcare services and encouragement from her school VET coordinator, Jane decided to undertake an Australian School-based Apprenticeship in Dental Assisting. Thriving in her studies, it lead Jane to a career as a dental assistant for Oral Health Services in the Northern Territory.

“When my high school career adviser told me of the Certificate III in Dental Assisting, and explained to me how helpful it would be as a beginning to my career, I started an Australian School-based Apprenticeship.”

“Now, not only have I finished my Year 12 Certificate, but I already have a profession. To me education is the key to success,” says Jane.

A high achiever, Jane went on to enroll in a Bachelor of Nursing at Charles Darwin University, having already completed a Certificate III in Aged Care and a Certificate IV in Disability in 2016. Her success in her studies continued, being presented with the Minister for Young Territorians’ Excellence in Youth Leadership Award and Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation grant.

A focus on giving back to the community has always been important for Jane, who volunteered at the Melaleuca Refugee Center in Darwin, Northern Territory, spending time helping youth transition into their new home.

Jane attributes her past as her primary motivation for wanting a career that helps others.

“I believe that my past has really shaped me to be the young person I am today.  I would tell other young people, especially those coming from migrant or refugee backgrounds to approach these opportunities, we’ve been given so many opportunities.”

“If you’re passionate about something, if there’s an apprenticeship or traineeship available, take it. Don’t let anything put you down. It doesn’t matter where you come from.”

“Let your past go and shape your future now,” says Jane.

Jane continues to volunteer at various community organisations in Darwin, is a student ambassador for Charles Darwin University, formal chair of Multicultural Youth Northern Territory and is the Ambassador for World Refugee Week Northern Territory.

Fellow national VET Alumni member and finalist in the 2016 Australian Training Awards’ Vocational Student of the Year Award, Francine Ikirezi grew up in refugee camps before immigrating to Australia.

Since settling in Australia, Francine has completed a Certificate III and IV in Aged Care and a Diploma in Business Administration. Francine’s training has seen her gain independence and self-confidence, which she is now utilising as she continues to further her studies, completing units towards a Diploma of Nursing.

With a strong commitment to helping those in need, Francine has set a goal to one day set up an aged care facility in Rwanda.

SkillsOne will be showcasing VET qualifications during National Skills Week from 28 August to 3 September 2017. During this week, Australia will highlight the breadth in career opportunities available through a VET qualification. To organise an event, or take part in the many events that can be found across the country, visit the National Skills Week website.

For further information on Jane or Francine’s story, or other engaging career stories from the Australian Training Awards, VET Alumni program or the Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador program, visit the Australian Training Awards website.

National Skills Week, Australia’s primary week to celebrate vocational education and training, provides an opportunity to celebrate the success stories of those undertaking vocational qualifications.

“Vocational education and training, apprenticeships and traineeships are for people from all walks of life, for all industry sectors and for all experience levels.”

“Vocational training allows you to gain practical skills, gives you hands on experience, provides you with skills that set you apart from the crowd, and importantly provides the skills and qualifications you need for your future career success,” says Kirstin Casey, General Manager at SkillsOne.

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