Skill up

Once you've chosen your path, how are you going to move forward along it?  Maybe you'll need to improve or update your current skills, or learn some new ones to get that deadly job. You might need to skill up because you've been out of work for a while,  don’t have a lot of work-related experience yet, or perhaps you want to change direction and move into a different type of work that involves a whole different set of skills.  Skilling up can also help if you're finding it hard to get a job without a qualification.

Whatever the reason, there's lots of ways to skill up.  And of course, your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help.

 

You can also find some great information in Career planning under the Jobs and careers section of this website, but here you'll find stories of people from your mob and find out how they skilled up. 

An Aboriginal person skilling up through training.
An Aboriginal person skilling up through training.
An Aboriginal person skilling up through training.
An Aboriginal person skilling up through training.
An Aboriginal person skilling up through training.

From little things, big things grow

Start small

Want to set up your own café one day? Skill up by learning the ropes at a local coffee bar to find out what it's like. Want to work in a world-renowned hotel or resort? Start at a smaller, less famous place and learn everything you can while you're there.

Want to own an auto repairs business in the future? Try helping out a local mechanic to skill up with some hands-on experience.

Having work experience will make you much more confident when you go for that dream job.

Work experience in a cafe.

Volunteer — help yourself, and your community

Doing volunteer work is like work experience, but it's usually with a group or community organisation rather than a business. For example; you could volunteer at an animal shelter, or an aged care home, or with an environmental group looking after waterways or bushland. Many hospitals and schools look for volunteers, as do charity organisations. 

Not only does volunteering help you skill up by getting hands-on experience, but you're also making a positive contribution to your community. 

A young woman volunteering at an animal shelter.

Do something related

Really want to be an information technology (IT) specialist? Skill up by getting experience on an IT help desk, providing support to computer users, and you can transfer these skills and knowledge when the right opportunity comes up to be an IT expert!

Want to be a nurse? Skill up by working as an orderly where you'll learn a lot about patient care and how hospitals run. This type of experience would be really useful when you apply to get into a nursing course.

A young man working in IT.

Get a start — foot in the door

Maybe your career goal is to be an office manager, so try applying for positions such as an administration assistant where you can skill up and get experience that will enable you to work your way up to a management position.

Most people who are now in a professional role will tell you they started with something lower level and then worked their way up the ladder over a few years as their skills and experience grew.

Clerk filing papers.

Get an internship or cadetship

An internship or cadetship is work experience combined with on the job training  while studying for a professional, managerial or office career – similar to how people studying trades qualifications do an apprenticeship. An internship or cadetship can be done by high school students as well as those studying at college or university, and they're a great way to skill up. 

Internships are generally short term, and are usually unpaid. They may lead to employment with the company but there’s no guarantee of this. An internship or cadetship is a great addition to your resumé.

Young worker at office work station.

Exploring options

If you're going to skill up, it's worth spending a bit of time exploring the different ways you could go about it, and find the best option to help you along your path. Here's some different ways you could do it. 

  • Skill up through study
  • Skill up through work experience
  • Skill up by volunteering
  • Skill up through self employment

It's really about finding the option that best suits you! 

And remember, your local Jobs and Skills Centre can provide free advice and information about skilling up.

Whether it's about choosing the right training training, assistance to get work experience, or anything else related to helping you reach your goals, they can help. 
 

 

Anita's skill up story

Anita has been at home with her two young kids for the past few years, but now they're both at school full time and she's been thinking about starting a new career.

Anita loves photography and art, and she's been taking photos and doing portraits of friends in her spare time. She’s designed a logo  and stationery for a couple of local businesses, made posters for her kids’ school and her partner’s footy club, and is very involved with a local community arts program. 

Take a look at Anita’s story to find out how she decided to skill up. Use the buttons to move through the slideshow.

Anita outside, taking photos.

Anita's been doing a bit of research online to find out how to get started. She's found out that she will have more career options if she gets a design qualification, rather than just relying on her portfolio and talent to get work.

Anita uses the course search on the Jobs and Skills WA website to find out what graphic design courses and qualifications are available.  She discovers several that look interesting, including a Certificate IV and a Diploma in Graphic Design.

Since she's just starting out on her chosen path,  but she has a bit of experience,  Anita thinks that the Certificate IV course would be the best way to skill up.

Anita using the Jobs and Skills WA website's course search.

Anita reads the course information in detail, looking at things like:

  • what skills and knowledge are covered in each course;
  • how, where and when each course is delivered;
  • how much each course costs and how long each one is; and
  • what the entry requirements are for each course.

Anita also needs to think about how she'll organise care for her children if any of her classes are outside of school hours, and how she'll be able to fit in paid work, class work and homework. She also wonders whether she can get any financial assistance with the course fees.

Anita checks out the course information.

Anita decides that she’d like to apply for a place in the Certificate IV in Design (Graphic Design) course. She chooses this option for several reasons:

  • the course content sounds interesting and covers a range of design specialties, including photography, which she's very interested in;
  • it’s been a long time since she studied and she’s not sure how she’ll go, so she doesn’t want to commit to more than a one year course;
  • if she enjoys the Certificate IV and does well, she can skill up further with the Diploma later;
  • this course costs less than the others; and
  • the campus where this course is offered is closer to her home.
Anita is looking forward to skilling up through study.

Time for Tom to skill up

Tom's grew up in the bush and finished school at the end of year 10. Tom's now 22, and he loves nature and being outdoors. Over the past few years he's done a bit of lawn mowing, garden clean-ups and other odd jobs, but he's been unemployed for a little while now.

Tom would love to work in horticulture, and his dream job would be in the gardens at Kings Park. But has no idea how to make this happen or if it's even possible.

Take a look at Tom’s story to find out how he decided to skill up. Use the buttons to move through the slides.

Tom is ready to skill up.

Tom has spent a lot of time trying to figure out what he should do next to help him move forward on his path, but he really doesn't know where to start.

His dream job seems so far away from what he’s doing now that he starts to question whether he would even like it or if he’s got any chance at all of getting that kind of job.

After being unemployed for so long, Tom doesn't have a lot of confidence in himself.

Tom is ready to skill up.

In town one day Tom bumps into an old mate, Stephen, who he’s known since they were kids. Stephen asks Tom how he’s doing and tells him a bit about what’s been happening in his life. Stephen works in conservation, at a local nature reserve, which is similar to the kind of work Tom would love to do. They go for a drive to where Stephen works and Tom gets a tour of the reserve.

Stephen notices that Tom is feeling a bit lost about his career path and really needs a mate to talk to, so he suggests they sit down for a yarn. Stephen tells Tom that there's places out there with local services that specialise in helping people to figure out how to get on to their career path.

Tom is ready to skill up.

​Tom feels a lot better after the yarn with Stephen, and reckons maybe these places might be able to help kick-start his career. The next day, Tom goes along to his local Jobs and Skills Centre for some advice.

Tom meets with Nate at the JSC. Nate suggests that because Tom has been unemployed for a while, a first step would be to get some work experience. Using the computers at the centre, Nate helps Tom create a CV that lists his employment history and describes the work he did in each job, focusing on his experience related to horticulture. They also add Tom’s career goal, which gives potential employers a more complete picture of what he's all about.

Tom is ready to skill up.

With Tom's permission, Nate at the Jobs and Skills Centre passes Tom's details on to three local horticultural businesses who he thinks may be willing to give Tom a go.

A week later, Tom gets the call he’s been hoping for – he’s offered a work experience opportunity at a large local nursery and they want him to start as soon as possible.

At last Tom is making a start on his path, and this work experience is just the boost he needs to get skilled up and closer to that job at Kings Park.

Anita applies to skill up

Now that Anita's made the decision to skill up, she needs to figure out how to get into the course she wants. Anita looks up how to get into the Certificate IV in Design (Graphic Design) course on the training provider's website, and finds out that she needs to meet entrance requirements and apply online for a place in the course.

To see how she goes about getting in to her course,  and what documents she gets together for her application, use the buttons to move through the slideshow.

Entrance requirements

According to the website, the entrance requirement for Anita's course are 'C grades in year 11 English and Maths or equivalent' or a completed Certificate II or III level course. There are no other entrance requirements listed, except for a statement that says:

"Some courses may require you to submit a portfolio of your work. You will be told whether you need to do this or not once all applications have been received and assessed, after the closing date."

This means that it’s possible the college will use portfolios to help choose who gets a place in the course.

Portfolio

With her background in design, Anita is glad to hear that her portfolio may help her get a place in the course. Anita has already started putting her portfolio together, to make sure it's ready to go if needed.

Two of the things Anita wants to showcase is the stationery design she did for her friend's florist business, and her photography from a friend's wedding. Then she's going to select a few different styles of design and different formats to show the kind of work she has done, so that her portfolio will showcase her skills as an artist and her abilities as a graphic designer.

Anita starts putting her portfolio together.

Apply online

Anita looks through the online application form on the college's website, to see what information and documents she needs to complete the application. 

She sees she has to provide:

  • personal details, including an email address;
  • details and evidence of previous studies;
  • a list of work experience, and her resumé.
Anita starts the online application.

Documents and evidence — CV/Resumé

On her CV, Anita lists her year 11 subjects and attaches the statement of her results as proof. Next she describes her work experience. Although Anita has never had a full time job, she has done some part time, casual and voluntary work. She has also produced designs for friends and local organisations, so she includes information about all of this as well.

Anita also plans on visiting her local Jobs and Skills Centre for some advice, just to make sure her CV is as good as it can be. 

You can take a closer look at Anita's CV to see how she's put it together and what information's on there so far. 

Anita's CV.

Referees

As proof of her skills and experience in the commercial area, Anita attaches a reference from a client she worked with. In this reference, the client also describes the skills Anita showed during the process of designing for her catering business.

Take a look at the reference from Anita's client 

Anita gets in touch with the two people she’s listed as referees, just  to confirm they are happy to do this for her. She tells them what she is applying for, so that they will be ready to describe her talents if the training provider contacts them. 

A reference from one of Anita's clients.

Check the application

Before submitting her application, Anita hands the laptop over to her housemate, and asks him to look through her resumé and check all the information and documents to make sure everything reads well and has been filled in correctly. 

It's always a good idea to ask someone you trust to check things for you, because it can be hard to spot mistakes in your own writing.

Once that's done, Anita will be able to submit her application. 

Skilling up stories

In this video you'll hear the stories of how three different people decided to skill up by doing some study, and how that helped them get into the job they're doing now. They also talk about what they found challenging about skilling up, and share their experiences.

How we can help

You can see from Anita and Tom's stories that there are different ways to skill up and you don't have to do this all on your own.

Your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help you with all aspects of skilling up, from helping to choose the best study option through to helping put your CV together. They can connect you with local employers offering work experience, and you can also get onto the Aboriginal services jobs board to see what employment opportunities are out there.