Belle-Angele Ciza fled war-ravaged East Africa eight years ago in search of a better life.
And she found it ... in Finley.
Ms Ciza credits TAFE NSW Riverina Institute with giving her the skills to integrate more seamlessly into the Finley community.
Born and raised in Burundi, one of the most impoverished countries in the world, Ms Ciza arrived in Australia speaking little English.
She enrolled in a Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) at TAFE NSW.
Armed with her qualifications, she and her family moved to Finley in 2016 and within weeks Ms Ciza had secured a job with Finley Regional Care.
Ms Ciza is currently completing a Certificate IV in Ageing Support at TAFE NSW Finley to increase her skills and has been joined in the class by her husband, Joseph Minani who is also an aged carer at Finley Regional Care.
“I do night shift and he does morning shift, so we handover to each other at the end of each shift,” Ms Ciza said.
“I love my job and I love that TAFE has helped keep me up to date and learning more. The teachers are great and have so much experience in the industry.”
Ms Ciza, 32, next plans to complete a Diploma of Nursing with TAFE NSW to help her become an enrolled nurse and progress her career further.
It comes at a time of an intense skills shortage in the aged care industry.
A submission to last year’s Federal Senate inquiry into the future of Australia’s aged care industry, by Leading Aged Services Australia, has found the workforce would need to increase from 350,000 workers to 1.3 million by 2050 to meet surging demand.
Meanwhile, data from the TAFE NSW Jobs of the Future report predicted ‘aged carer’ would enjoy the largest jobs growth of any profession in the Murray region between 2018 and 2021.
TAFE NSW Finley aged care teacher Alison Luelf said the aged care sector is "crying out" for skilled workers.
“There are just so many jobs out there and it’s a career that really suits people who are caring by nature and willing to spend time to talk to older people,” she said.
Ms Luelf said the Certificate III Individual Support (Ageing) was a 12-month course that offered a blend of face-to-face and online learning, with students attending classes in person one or two days a week.