Caroline Zambrano, Australia, August 2014
Queensland teenager Sophie Meyer is one of thousands of unemployed Australians in search of employment. The 19-year-old used to work at a day spa while studying beauty therapy but didn't fit in and eventually quit her job and the course.
"I have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and academics has always been a challenge for me," she says. "I struggled so much to sit still in the classroom. It would go in one ear and out the other. I also find it difficult to deal with people. One day, I came across an ad for a pet grooming training program and I knew straight away, I had to start that day!"
Ms Meyer, who has three dogs, enrolled in the Animal Styling and Pet Grooming training program run by Queensland's Pet Stylist Academy, the pet industry leaders in grooming training, in partnership with Australian Apprenticeships Access Program. It is a pet industry training program that is first of its kind in Australia.
After two months of hands-on training and work experience at Pet Stylist Academy on the Gold Coast and a variety of other pet businesses (including a boarding kennel, pet shop and another grooming salon), Ms Meyer completed the program - including the class work - and now has a career path in sight!
"I plan to enrol in a Cert III course in pet grooming and become a pet groomer and maybe someday a vet nurse," she says. "I really enjoyed learning through Pet Stylist Academy. They also really understood my disabilities and helped me to grow so much and made me believe that I can do this. I now have a passion for working with animals and can't see myself doing anything else."
Program offers access to pet industry careers
Program trainer Emily Myatt, who is an award-winning International Certified Master Groomer from Pet Stylist Academy, says the program provides opportunities to those unemployed with a genuine passion for animals to obtain some training and have access to a career in the pet industry. The program is:
"We know young unemployed people need advice and mentoring about their career paths, and opportunities to gain basic skills and work experience in a real work place with a real employer," says Mrs Myatt. "Pet Stylist Academy works one-on-one with the students, teaching them the fundamentals of dog washing, dog handling, dog behaviour and customer service. We have seen many young people develop from being very reserved and having no confidence to adults who are confident with dogs and in their own abilities."
The program also offers mentoring and support to students in obtaining employment in a range of pet-related businesses, such as pet retail, boarding, doggy daycare or grooming.
Security guard to vet nurse
Jove Price, 27-year-old father of three young children, used to work as a security guard but now has his heart set on becoming a vet nurse.
"The hours were terrible, I was working 12-hour nights and sleeping during the day. Life was hard and I missed my family," he says. "I always had an interest in animals and volunteered at animal shelters. I eventually want to be a vet nurse and by taking this course (Animal Styling and Pet Grooming) I can transfer my skills to vet science."
The program enabled Mr Price to do work experience at a veterinary hospital where he fed and watered animals, cleaned out cages and observed surgeries.
"I saw the vets do a biopsy of a lump on a cat's head, and watched the nurses draw blood from dogs. I learned about the various equipment and what they are used for. One day a dog came in after being attacked by another dog. The vets and nurses were so quick to respond. It was full on!" he says.
Mr Price loved every minute of his work experience at the hospital. In fact, he has never been happier.
"I feel more confident in knowing where I'm headed. I just want to be a vet nurse. Nothing else interests me," he says. "I am getting closer to my dream and my family are so proud of me. My 3-year-old Lilly-Belle asks me every day if I will work with the doggies again. She's so excited about what I do. So am I."
For more information about the Australian Apprenticeships Access Program, please visit www.jobaccess.gov.au/content/australian-apprenticeships-access-program-0