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Want a new career but don’t know how to make the shift?

How to change lanes in your working life without losing momentum.

Does every day at work feel like a Monday?

Do you dream about moving into a totally different career?

Is the fear of losing the salary and standing you've built up in your current role the only thing stopping you from throwing it in?

What if changing lanes in your career didn't also have to mean changing gears?

There's an option available that can help you retain your seniority and maintain your momentum when you change careers. It's called Recognition of Prior Learning, or RPL.

Recognition of Prior Learning is a way of gaining qualifications for the skills and experience you've built up throughout your working life, without the hassle of undertaking a course of study. RPL acknowledges the fact that a lot of learning happens on the job, not just in a classroom. That learning is just as important, and deserves to be recognised - hence the name 'Recognition of Prior Learning.'

gareth rochester in suit and tie

Sounds good. But who is it for?

Many people get RPL when they want to progress in their jobs, but there are also a lot of people who get RPL to facilitate a change of careers. Whatever the circumstances, RPL takes the experience, training and knowledge that you have and converts it to nationally recognised qualifications that can be applied to any role, in any industry. A lot of people are surprised to find out just how many transferrable skills they have.

For instance, Gareth Rochester was a Major in the Australian Army when he approached Churchill about gaining Recognition of Prior Learning. Gareth was in the process of transitioning out of his Defence role into the civilian workforce, but needed to show potential employers what it was he could actually do. Like many industries, Defence has its own language and it can be hard to translate the substance of roles and responsibilities to people outside the ADF world.

'There's still not a full understanding by many in the public sector of what Defence does and how much of a modern organisation they are. It's a very agile environment, and a very responsive environment. In any skill or trade, each individual is very diverse in what they do,' Gareth says. It's these qualities that make Defence personnel quite versatile and likely an asset to companies in civilian world, he suggests. 'You come out of Defence with a broad skillset, particularly in management and leadership, which are two things that are often spoken about but not completely understood. From what I've seen in stepping out of uniform recently, you have to try and market yourself in a way that fits in with the organisation that you're aiming to work for.'

Gareth received a CPP50611 Diploma of Security and Risk Management and a BSB60615 Advanced Diploma of Work Health and Safety through RPL, and these qualifications in turn gave him credit towards tertiary study, a Master of Policing, Intelligence and Counterterrorism from Macquarie University. He also saw the benefit when applying for jobs. 'Quite a few of the jobs I was applying for actually required these qualifications, so it certainly helped.'

Gareth is now employed as a Senior Consultant with a company that provides management consultancy, research and project management services to public and private sector clients in Australia. Rather than starting at an entry level position, Gareth made a parallel move from Defence across to his new civilian role.

anna buxton student rpl

Similarly, Anna Buxton sought RPL to help her transition when returning to work in Australia after a ten-year stint working as a Human Resources Development Consultant in Canada. When it was time to come back to Australia, Anna started to look at jobs online and realised she was missing something vital, something that every single employer was asking for - nationally recognised qualifications. Without these, her ten years of experience seemed to count for virtually nothing. Through RPL, Anna received two complete nationally recognised qualifications, one in training and Assessment and another in Management. For Anna, having the qualifications got her foot in the door with the government. Within weeks of her return to Australia, she was hired as an Injury Management Advisor at the NSW Motor Accidents Authority. 'It literally got me the job,' she said. 'Other people had experienced too, but I had the qualifications to back it up.'

Are you considering changing careers? Qualifications might be just what you're looking for to help bridge the gap between equivalent roles in different industries. Find out more about the RPL and Defence RPL process.

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