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Jason proves we are never too old to learn

Never too old to learn.

It’s what Bendigo TAFE graduate Jason Qiang He, 50, often says to those around him and he’s one who truly walks the talk.

Having worked for 15 years as a police officer in China, Jason migrated to Australia at age 41 to be with his wife, thus beginning his journey as an adult learner.

“My wife came here to learn English. She liked the country and wanted to stay for life, so I quit my job and moved here… I followed love,” Jason shared.

“I’ve never learnt English in China. I just know A-B-C-D, one, two... I couldn’t say sentences. I first tried to learn English myself, and then, my wife told me I can start in the AMEP.”

Enrolling at Bendigo TAFE’s Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), Jason began to learn the language from ground up.

“It was difficult when I started to learn English. I was middle-aged… 41! But my wife gave me support in learning. My TAFE teachers are also so nice and gave me so much help,” Jason said.

“I learned from level zero to level three. Even though it was hard, there are many advantages… English is a way to be part of the community.”

Besides learning English, Jason was also busy cultivating another side of him – cooking!

“I started learning how to cook in Australia. I became a cook at Noodle Box. After that, I opened my own noodle shop. Later I sold that and bought another business,” he shared.

(Jason)

With his passion for learning ignited at TAFE, a chat with his teachers spurred Jason to take on another qualification – the Certificate III in Commercial Cookery (SIT30821)

“I really like cooking. I finished the English course and immediately applied for commercial cookery. The teacher was very good and in one year, I completed it,” Jason said.

Currently running three food and beverage businesses specialising in Vietnamese food, bubble tea and ice cream, Jason said his latest course has enhanced his skills in the trade.

“Through the course I became more professional. My cooking became better than before,” he shared.

“Everything I learnt from TAFE has helped me become better and better.”

Bendigo TAFE Chief Executive Officer Sally Curtain said there is a growing trend in mature aged students enrolling at TAFE.

“COVID stimulated many incentives for people to upskill at TAFE, which spurred an increase in interest in our courses,” Sally said.

“Mature aged students are also likely to choose TAFE because of the flexible learning options on offer, combined with government initiatives, to upskill and increase employability outcomes. This is appealing to older students who need to balance their studies with other commitments like work and family.

“Our mature aged students also tell us that they find the environment of TAFE supportive and rewarding. Knowing that the support of TAFE is behind them if they ever need it, they feel more encouraged to keep going and ask for help.”

Jason, for one, still has a thirst for more. Despite achieving qualifications in English, he continues to attend classes at Bendigo TAFE to refine and improve his skills.

“TAFE has helped me feel good about learning and I want to learn every day,” he said.

Bendigo TAFE is celebrating Adult Learner Week from 1-8 September and National TAFE Day on 6 September. One-on-one consultations are available for individuals seeking support on their career and training options through Bendigo TAFE’s Skills and Jobs Centre. For more information about courses offered at Bendigo TAFE visit bendigotafe.edu.au.

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