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Why we loved the CTA at NSF

By Fiona West | July 20, 2022

Navitas Skilled Futures asked three recent participants in the Career Transition Assistance program what they gained most from their experience. Here’s what they had to say:

Navitas Skilled Futures asked three recent participants in the Career Transition Assistance program what they gained most from their experience. Here’s what they had to say:

Alexis Alexander Santiago:

Despite a Bachelor of Science in Physics, Electronics and Maths in his homeland of India, plus a one-year diploma in postgraduate management, Alexis struggled to find work in Australia. He said the CTA Program helped to provide him with a new direction, and he is now doing further study at TAFE and hoping to have a future career in records management.

“I came to Australia in 2014 and I applied for work straight away but the response was not good. I have been doing all sorts of jobs, anything I can, to support my family, but it’s tough in Australia. My qualifications are not recognised here. My Employment Service Provider put me in the CTA Program at Navitas. I wasn’t sure about it at first but it was really good.

The CTA program was really important for me. It’s not just about building up your resume, it’s about helping you get into a job which you like and with the right company.

For me, the CTA course helped to put me on the right path for the job I really wanted, in records management. The facilitators helped me research everything I needed to do to upgrade my skills. They were very good. They brought in many people to speak to us to inspire us and guide us. I was trying to get into TAFE and they helped me with that, every step, and I enrolled in TAFE to study my Certificate IV in Business. I now have a plan and feel confident about my future. I think things will work out fine.”

CTA graduates (L-R) Alexis Santiago, Stephen Burns and John Neylan.

Stephen Burns:

After taking a break from his career in industrial chemistry due to ill health, Stephen found it difficult to re-enter the workforce, competing with younger job applicants for sales and technical service positions, and being “overqualified” for alternative options. Stephen said the CTA Program helped him “reset his focus” and restore his confidence. He is now looking at selling his Sydney home, moving down to the NSW south coast and starting a course in training and assessment.

“Apart from my age, being overqualified for jobs has worked against me when applying for work, with people thinking I’ll leave as soon as something better comes along. But what people don’t realise is that sometimes when you’ve worked hard all your life, you just want to take a step back and find work where you can come in and do your job without the stress and responsibility. How do you convince an employer, ‘Look, I know I’m overqualified but I actually am really happy to be doing this?’ I was put on the CTA course through my employment service provider and, to be honest, I was sceptical at first as these things tend to be hyped up and often don’t live up to expectations. But this course exceeded my expectations.

There are other courses out there where it is all online, and you are dealing with robots; there’s no heart. But the trainers at Navitas were just brilliant. They were enthusiastic, always there with a laugh and a smile, they genuinely care, and the ideas that they came up with were brilliant.

When I was looking for work years ago, you went to the classifieds in the Sydney Morning Herald. But now it’s all done online – technology has moved on. The thing about the CTA that’s really good for people of an older persuasion, is that there are lots of little bits and pieces, that although I’m relatively technical, I just didn’t know about. I was aware of LinkedIn, but I thought that was more of a social place, so I never really bothered with it. But it turns out you need to be on it, and looking at it. I’m 58 so, you know, my time in the workforce as a full time worker is somewhat limited. And there’s this exercise you do on the government website where you answer these questions, and it suggests what jobs you might be suitable for. Well, given my background, the first one was biology, the second one was chemistry, then it went through physics, epidemiologist, astronomy, every technical career you think of. There was not one option there that didn’t involve a four-year degree. So we sat down and had a discussion and the trainers came up with some really good ideas, including doing a Certificate IV in training and assessment, which is what I plan to do after I sell my house. And once I’ve done that I also feel I’m now more prepared with looking and applying for work. I’m feeling much more confident and positive thanks to the trainers and the CTA program at Navitas.”

John Neylan:

With a background in auditing, John has always been a highly organised person. And when he found himself looking for work for the first time in 20 years he applied his organisational skills to job applications – for almost 12 months, without success. It wasn’t until he participated in the CTA program at Navitas Skilled Futures that he realised he had being going about the job-seeking process the wrong way. “If I’d have known about this program earlier I’d probably have a job by now,” he said.

“I’m a pretty positive person. For someone who had been working for so many years, I hadn’t really ever had to look for a job before. Auditing is my area of expertise so I would be silly not to work in that area, but I’ve opened up my job searches from financial services to jobs within my whole skillset, that’s something Navitas helped me with – thinking about transferrable skills that I can use in different industries. Navitas showed me how to research jobs, not just going through a company’s website, but also their social media, things like YouTube, editorials and Ted Talks. Knowing how to tailor the cover letters and resume so they’re not all the same, these are things I have learned.

At Navitas we have had talks from people in industries, that are not my industry, but it makes you think about your transferrable skills. We looked at things like getting police checks and a Working With Children check, and volunteering, which  I wouldn’t have thought about to be honest –  I’m actually more focused on getting a job, but of course, along the way, if that’s something I can do, yeah, sure I will and I say thanks to Navitas for opening my eyes to it.

But the most important thing Navitas gave me was some type of direction in a structured course. Having a plan was something I didn’t even think of before, and I suppose I’m an old fashioned person, I’m in my late 50s, and one of the things I wouldn’t have even thought about including in a plan is wellness, my wellbeing. But now I include it in my weekly plan, like on Tuesday I’ll listen to some music or go for a walk. I was sort of doing it but ‘sort of’ isn’t good enough. You’ve really got to plan. Looking for a job can be frustrating. It’s things like that which keep you staying healthy and positive. You have to build it into your day, your week. The CTA program really was fantastic. I think more than anything else it gave me direction. I could not recommend it highly enough to anybody else because of the structure, and the people at Navitas. I just wished I’d done it sooner.”

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