Australia is an aging country and naturally, our workforce is aging too. However, despite this demographic trend, many older Australians find there are significant barriers to work.
Transitioning to work that is more physically appropriate for aging bodies while managing health conditions can be a tricky balance for older workers.
When you include a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse background, unfortunately, it compounds these problems and makes securing ongoing employment even tougher.
Suk has been in Australia since 1988. Coming from Hongkong she had underdeveloped English skills, however, has managed to find work on and off cleaning in shopping centres.
This work however isn’t as suitable as it once was. Suk has developed arthritis in her legs which makes covering longer distances difficult.
She also suffered a recent head injury which brought about several medical issues that she must manage.
Trying to find a job that was a better fit led Suk to the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program in Elizabeth, South Australia.
Suk had defined goals around her literacy and communication skills as she was quite confident with her understanding of numeracy.
Her goal was to become more confident in speaking and gaining a better understanding of English and improving her chances of finding the right job.
The SEE program takes practical and pragmatic approaches to language learning and literacy improvement. Through real world application of skills, students can improve these critical skills that improve access to opportunities and secure employment.
Suk’s determination to better herself was not just evident in her ability to overcome her health challenges. She was also impacted by COVID restrictions limiting face-to-face instruction.
Despite these challenges, Suk was adaptable and always engaged in learning to better her English skills.
Her newfound confidence in her communication skills led her to a job in a laundromat. Her job coach identified a work experience trial that Suk took on with an impressive attitude which ultimately led to an offer for full-time employment.
Suk said of her time in the SEE program “I really enjoyed class” and she valued the chance to interact with students from other countries while improving her English skills.
The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program is delivered by MAX on behalf of the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.