57-year-old mum of 6, Pamela Knudsen, went from struggling to make ends meet to landing her dream job, with the support of her Jobs Victoria mentor.
Unemployed, with no formal qualifications and her savings shrinking fast, Pamela was looking for factory work to pay the bills. As a woman over 45, she thought this was her only option, until she connected with Jobs Victoria and took a fresh look at her life.
‘I had been looking for work but hadn’t had any luck. A lot of times I was told ‘Too old. Sorry. Not what we want.’ She began wondering ‘why bother?’ when everyone kept saying ‘no’.
Pamela had long aspired to work in the disability support sector. But she didn’t have the necessary certification and felt that getting qualified was beyond her reach.
Enter Jobs Victoria mentor, Julie Moulin-Molenaar from OCTEC, a not for profit employment service provider.
When Julie discovered that Pamela’s parenting experience included raising a son with Down Syndrome for the past 22 years, she suggested a role through a Jobs Victoria initiative that offered paid training, the opportunity to complete a disability care qualification, and a job in the sector.
This $5.9 million Victorian Government program is creating 500 new disability support and aged care jobs. It’s the result of Jobs Victoria’s partnership with WIDI, the Workforce Innovation and Development Institute at RMIT.
‘Pamela has been supporting her son, who lives with disability, to gain independence, from birth to adulthood.’ says Julie.
‘My job was to show her that even without certification, she had years of very valuable, relevant experience. Switching that viewpoint and showing her all she has to offer has really helped Pamela in her journey with us.’
Julie says she often supports women over 45 to embrace a positive mindset when it comes to finding work.
‘Employers may highlight that a lady who’s over 50 won’t be able to invest as much time in a company as someone younger,’ she says. ‘But we focus on all the experience and acquired skills a mature woman can offer.’
Pamela felt validated, respected, and supported by Julie, who listened to her individual circumstances and ambitions. Julie then found a practical way to support her to achieve her career goals.
Soon after, Focus Individualised Support Services offered her a job as a disability support worker. She was thrilled. ‘They said ‘Yes – you can do this’ and I was crying with joy because I couldn’t believe this was happening!
‘Now I’m studying and I’m working. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m so grateful to Julie. She helped me find the strength to do it because I didn’t believe in myself.’
Pamela has some advice for women in similar circumstances: ‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s the first step to being seen because if you’re not asking, you are invisible.
‘You’ve got to believe in yourself. You are valuable - especially women over 50 - because we have life experience and can help in ways you may not even realise.’
Find out how Jobs Victoria can support your job search.