For many occupations, it is difficult to obtain the skills and knowledge required for a traditional academic curriculum. If you’re considering pursuing a technical career, want to progress in your existing job or feel that it’s time to try something new, undertaking a course of Technical and Further Education (TAFE) is the ideal solution. TAFE courses are intended to combine the information needed to conduct everything from photography to plumbing with the practical skills required to get the job done successfully. If you live or work in Western Australia, the most well-known provider of TAFE qualifications is the Challenger Institute of Technology. Challenger offers a huge selection of course across many campuses, including Challenger TAFE in Murdoch and Challenger TAFE in Beaconsfield. Whatever you want to do, it’s likely that Challenger has a course that’s right for you.
The oldest technical education provider in Western Australia
Challenger began way back in 1898 when Fremantle Boys’ School began to provide evening classes. A couple of years later the Fremantle Technical School, was established, offering educational opportunities for boys in a building which is still used by Challenger today for administrative purposes. Over the years Challenger has undergone many different name changes and reincarnations, gradually increasing the number of locations and broadening the spectrum of courses available. Challenger has grown enormously over the past century or so – in 1900 the Technical School has a roll of 116 boys, all taught at the FTI building in Adelaide Terrace. In comparison, today Challenger has ten different sites and provides learning opportunities for around 23,000 students each year.
Flexible study options
Challenger TAFE opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, so no matter what your circumstances there’s likely to be a way of learning which meets your needs. Although courses are given for full-time students during the day in a classroom, there are numerous other options to consider. Many courses are provided on a part-time basis, as a day release option or can even be undertaken in the workplace! Some courses can be taken on a modular basis – ideal for people that can’t commit to several years of study. If accessing a campus regularly is a problem, distance learning or online learning are also available. Online learning, in particular, is a fantastic option for people with caring responsibilities, shift workers or other learners for whom regular attendance at a set time on a particular day just isn’t going to be sustainable. Contemporary online courses enable students to achieve the same qualifications as classroom based learning, just delivered in a different format. Challenger TAFE in Fremantle and on the other campuses is specifically designed to be relevant and accessible to the majority of adults.
Lack of qualifications isn’t a barrier
The practical nature of TAFE courses is such that frequently previous experience, related employment or simply enthusiasm and a desire to learn may be sufficient to ensure access to a course. Basic numeracy and literacy are always helpful, so if you struggled with these at school, or perhaps didn’t complete your HRC, it may be worth taking a look at one of the wide range of basic skills courses out there that will help you obtain the necessary skills to get the most from your study.
Initiatives such as Skills for Education and Employment can be a useful way of improving vital learning skills. Another option is to start with a low-level course initially and then move on to more advanced one once the former is successfully obtained. For example Certificates in Hospitality can be achieved at a level I, II, III or IV. If you don’t have a large number of pre-existing qualifications, you’re more likely to be accepted for Level I than one of the higher levels. Complete Level I successfully and the chances of obtaining a place on the Level 2 (or higher) course will improve. Why not take a look at online resources and see what’s available to improve literacy and numeracy competency? For employees who already have significant “on the job” experience, in some cases, it’s possible to have the skills obtained already accredited through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) which Challenger runs in some subject areas.
Wide selection of Challenger TAFE courses on offer
TAFE courses at Challenger are broadly divided into nine different areas: Applied Engineering, Oil & Gas; Building and Automotive Technology; Business and Information Technology; Community Services, Health, Sport & Lifestyle, Skills for Training and Employment; Skills for Training and Employment; Hospitality and Tourism; Maritime Studies; Science and the Environment; and Vocational Training and Quality Audit. Within each category, there are numerous different courses on offer. In the “Science and the Environment” section, for example, students can access anything from Certificate II in Floristry through to a Diploma of Health and Safety. Different campuses offer different subject choices, so hospitality and tourism or beauty students could study Challenger TAFE at Mandurah (Peel), while Challenger TAFE at Rockingham is the ideal location for an apprenticeship or traineeship in one of the trades.
One of the unique features of Challenger is the broad focus of its subject matter. Students can find courses relevant to both urban and rural occupations, while Challenger TAFE at Fremantle Maritime Campus offers some internationally acclaimed qualifications in Aquaculture, Marine Operations and Logistics. The diverse selection of subjects ensures that prospective students can nearly always find something suitable, no matter how narrow their interests or career path might be. If you can’t find TAFE at Challenger that’s an exact fit for your requirements, remember that there are online providers that can provide additional learning opportunities which may be more suitable for your needs.
How to choose the course that’s right for you
Essentially the final course choice is based on your career aspirations, existing skills and availability to complete a course of study. Obviously, it makes sense to opt for a course that’s geared towards your current employment or form the basis for a new career. Once you’ve identified the appropriate subject area for your needs, the next step is to consider what type of qualification is going to be most suitable. Younger students may find that an apprenticeship or traineeship may be a great solution. More mature learners could think about a part-time or day release course of study which might fit better around existing commitments. Some courses are offered through distance learning, online learning or even delivered in the workplace. It’s normally possible to find a format that suits, even if you face particularly challenging barriers to accessing learning.
The level of study is also an important consideration. While no one wants to waste time on a more basic qualification if they’ve already got important skills, entry level learning can often serve as valuable revision and give students the confidence they need to tackle higher level education. Challenger offers everything from a basic Level I Certificate in Engineering right the way through to Higher or Advanced Diplomas in subjects such as Accountancy or Nursing. If you’re not sure what course would be best for a particular career, course tutors, your current employer or the professional body which governs your intended profession can frequently provide the information you need. There is also plenty of real careers information available at http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/jobs-and-workplace/career-information.
Which method of learning would work best?
There is no single “best” mode of study, although some are more commonly accessed than others. Usually, 16-18-year-olds tend to study full-time, frequently opting for a traineeship or apprenticeship option. Older students may also study full-time, but existing careers, families and financial constraints are just some of the reasons why mature learners are more likely to favour online or distance learning, modular study or part-time courses. TAFE at Challenger is extremely accessible, so if you can’t see a class that will fit your needs, get in touch with Student Services or ask at one of the Recruitment events to find a method of learning that’s sustainable for you. In many cases, courses can be completed almost wholly online, which works extremely well in many situations where regular attendance at a campus is unrealistic.
Will I need further qualifications after my course is over?
In many cases, it will be clear before you start a course whether its completion will be the end of the qualification route to your chosen career, or whether further training is needed. Many people complete one course and then have a break before starting the next. Others take a course, find a job and then return to study years later when they want to advance up the career ladder and find that a further qualification will enhance their employment prospects. Often a full-time qualification may be followed by shorter courses to remain updated or to learn more about particular aspects of a job.
Finance whilst learning
Generally, 16-18-year-olds will not need to pay tuition fees and there are also exemptions in place for many courses which either enable students to acquire the skills they need to enter into employment, or which give learners qualifications in an area of potential economic growth where a growing number of workers are required. If you want further information about the governmental assistance which is available, Study Assist has plenty of helpful information. In some cases employers will pay for relevant training, whilst in other cases student bursaries may be available. Student Services may be able to suggest solutions in some cases, as well as potentially advise on additional financial help with costs such as childcare whilst learning, travel and book costs.
Individual students may also be able to apply for grants from charities, trusts and other philanthropic organisations. Each will have its own eligibility criteria, but it’s worth having a look at what’s on offer as students may successfully obtain grants for books, a laptop or other study aids to help them with their learning.
Younger students tend to stay at home while they’re studying, whereas older students may already have their home and commute to the relevant campus. The amount and type of local accommodation vary between campuses, so if you’re going to need somewhere to live, it’s worth taking a careful look at what’s available before signing up for a campus-specific course. Students wishing to undertake Challenger TAFE at Murdoch, for example, will benefit from the excellent transport links to the campus as well as the more established, older properties in the neighbourhood. At Mandurah, students can easily obtain accommodation with an ocean view – just one of the benefits which life in this beautiful city can bring.
Wide range of student support
No matter what problems you’re facing, Student Services will be able to offer help and advice. As well as providing support with problems directly related to study, they are also able to refer students on for appropriate counselling, debt support, health provision and more. If you’ve got an issue in your life which is affecting your ability to learn, Student Services will do their utmost to help. Don’t forget that there is also a range of statutory and voluntary services off-campus that might also be able to offer assistance. Everyone at Challenger wants students to succeed and enjoy their learning, so if you’re finding things tough, be assured that help is out there.
It’s important to let your tutor and support services know as soon as you can if you are having difficulties. If the college staff are aware of your problems, they can frequently adjust your workload, facilitate time off and provide other support to enable you to continue your course in a manageable way until things improve.
Plenty of part-time student employment near Challenger
The type and amount of employment available vary depending on campus location. Students living near Beaconsfield, for example, may find that aside from work in fast food outlets or retail, there is limited alternative employment as the immediate area is mainly residential. Conversely, learners located at Murdoch will find that south of South Street there are a large number of commercial developments which offer good opportunities for shift work or holiday employment. Although Western Australia has excellent infrastructure, it’s still not always feasible to live near a particular campus and simultaneously maximise the chances of well-paid employment. For many students, compromises inevitably have to be made, perhaps by moving closer to work but studying online or attending classroom based learning whilst topping up income through online work or relocating to work during the holidays.
Don’t forget that many TAFE Challenger courses are structured correctly to fit in with employment. This allows many students to work full-time and then study for the qualifications that they want during the evening or on a day release basis. Often this provides a more financially sustainable option than trying to study full-time and then make sufficient monies to live on during scant leisure hours. It’s important to be realistic about how many hours of employment you can sustainably undertake at the same time as studying, particularly if your qualification requires a significant amount of additional study.
Things to do, see and be part of
Like any large city in Australia, Perth has an enormous selection of activities, entertainment options, retail facilities, cultural attractions and more on offer. Similarly the campuses at Mandurah, Munster and Orelia are all surrounded by exciting leisure opportunities. Perth is home to everything from major attractions such as King’s Park and the DNA Tower to small, local cafés and inviting independent shops. Whether you were raised in Western Australia, or are a newcomer to the area, there’s no shortage of things to do. Students attending Challenger normally find that they soon make friends and find local places of interest and activities which ensure they manage to find a good balance between socialising and study.
How to apply for a Challenger TAFE course
Applicants can apply through the State Training Admissions Route, by direct application, through an apprenticeship or traineeship application, or ask to undertake study part-time. If a student is successful, they will then need to take up their course place by enrolling. Enrolling may be undertaken on the phone through Challenger’s call centre, or by turning up in person on one of the dates given on the Challenger website. You will need to pay for your course at the same time as enrolling, as students are not considered fully enrolled until course fees have been paid. If you are also applying for funding from a separate source, this needs to be done concurrently with (at the same time as) your Challenger application.
It’s important to take note of the relevant “cut-off” dates for application and enrolment, as it may be difficult for you to get a place once these deadlines have passed.
For further information on how to access TAFE at Challenger, call 1800 001 001.