NEW DIRECTION: Tanisha Searle and her dad Glen at the recent TAFE info session day.
NEW DIRECTION: Tanisha Searle and her dad Glen at the recent TAFE info session day.

From Big Macs to Mack trucks

MOST kids love the opportunity to sit in a tractor or truck and pretend to drive them and Palmer's Island's Tanisha Searle was no different.

But then the growing up part kicks in and those childhood desires seem to make way for sensible things like getting an education and a suitable job.

Tanisha was already across the strong work ethic well before she graduated from high school - holding down two retails jobs with a combined 30 hours a week while doing her HSC was no mean feat.

Like a host of high school graduates she wasn't sure what she wanted to do.

"I got my Cert. 3 in retail at McDonalds as traineeship manager and thought that was the only direction I could go in."

Tanisha said she didn't really feel she had direction with a retail job but "I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my life."

That was until she went to Primex with her father Glen and realised she still had a hankering for big machinery.

"She had always wanted to drive heavy equipment from a young age," her father Glen said.

"She'd hop up in the seat, climb and explore the machinery when she was a kid."

But Tanisha had no idea how to get into this field of work because, let's face it, it's not exactly overrun with female operators.

And so Tanisha's childhood affection with heavy machinery was re-awakened at the popular Casino event.

"We thought we were just there to pat a cow and climb on a few machines, but Tanisha got to operate one and that was it," Glen said.

As fortuitous timing would have it a few days later the pair read about the TAFE open day in The Daily Examiner and thought it was meant to be.

Tanisha and her father were at the recent TAFE open day and signed up for the course immediately.

"I'm definitely ready to learn as much as possible about this, do the course and get straight out there and start working," she said.

Work for Tanisha means being part of the highway upgrade, one of the major projects that is providing careers in a variety of fields for interested students.

Following the success of the TAFE NSW pilot Civil Pre-Employment program held in March this year TAFE are taking new applications for the Civil Pathways Program (PEP) to commence at the Trenyar Infrastructure Skills Centre in July.

  • For further information on the program or to register to attend the information session, contact the TAFE NSW Civil Construction team on 1300 799 251, email or visit

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Clarence Valley opportunities

The TAFE NSW Civil Pre-Employment Program provides participants with a strong foundation for a career in civil construction and includes visits to local civil sites, industry guest speakers and the opportunity to meet with local industry employers recruiting for major infrastructure projects Australia-wide.

With record levels of investment in infrastructure on Clarence Valley public projects over the next five to seven years, TAFE NSW has responded to employer needs and is delivering a range of relevant civil construction courses, including pre-employment programs, to encourage people to capitalise on the industry boom.

TAFE NSW Civil Construction Project Officer, Stevie Cole, says that the increased construction activity offers an ideal opportunity for people in the Clarence Valley and surrounding areas to establish a career in the civil construction industry.

"If you're looking for a career switch or boost, and interested in working on local civil construction projects but you're not sure how to get started, then this program is for you," said Ms Cole.

"Previous experience in the civil construction industry is not a pre-requisite for the program but the industry is looking for people who have a strong work ethic, a positive approach to life and an openness to learning about the civil construction industry," said Ms Cole.

"TAFE NSW can provide you with the relevant industry training and exposure to industry representatives, you just need to want to give it a go," said Ms Cole.