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Proof that you’re never too old to learn at TAFE New England

TAFE New England student, Harmen Swart, has defied the odds and has not only obtained a qualification at 70 years of age, he has also secured work doing exactly what he loves - caring for others.  After much hesitation, Mr Swart enrolled in the Certificate III Aged Care in Semester One this year, and hasn’t looked back.

Harmen overcame age stereotypes such as being too old to learn and that educational facilities are youth orientated, to complete his studies in June 2015. Mr Swart decided to enrol in the course while he was volunteering at Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital in the cardiac rehab ward, a ward he is familiar with after he underwent triple heart bypass surgery.

“I enjoyed my voluntary work so much that I decided to gain a qualification so that I could earn an income while I did something I loved” Mr Swart said.

Harmen had to overcome some learning challenges such as the use of internet, considering he had not studied for many years. His teacher, Jennifer Jones, facilitated Harmen’s learning requirements by offering ways of completing the course units in a way that suited him.

As part of the course, students must complete work placement within the care industry. Harmen carried out his placement at the Bupa Aged Care Facility in Tamworth. Work placement affords students the opportunity to implement the skills and knowledge that they have learnt while completing their course, as well as gaining on-the-job training and insight into the industry.

Harmen completed his course in June and applied for and was subsequently offered a casual position at Bupa Aged Care Facility.

“I had an attitude that I was too old to study or to gain employment. I was so wrong!” Harmen said.

“If I could encourage at least one other person to gain a qualification at my age, then I would be happy” Harmen added.