Close as you'll get to an Illawarra 'job for life'

Warrigal Care chief Mark Sewell on the UoW Illawarra Showcase panel to help graduates find jobs. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Warrigal Care chief Mark Sewell on the UoW Illawarra Showcase panel to help graduates find jobs. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Students in the health and community services fields are "the smartest people in the university", according to Warrigal Care chief executive Mark Sewell.

Mr Sewell was speaking at the University of Wollongong's Illawarra Showcase program, a two-day event aiming to help those about to graduate in the hunt for employment.

On Wednesday there were a range of panels featuring regional representatives talking about career paths.

Mr Sewell, who was part of the health and community services panel, said working in these sectors was as close as you could get to a job for life.

"These people have either stumbled across or have selected something that's going to be strong and thriving in 10 or 20 years' time," Mr Sewell said.

"How many other industries are there like that?

"This sector, we know there's going to be more and more and more aged people between 60 and 100 in this region who are going to need those services and support."

However, he cautioned that graduates wouldn't be able to just walk into a job. They would still need qualifications as well as a diverse range of experiences to start their career.

"It's not necessarily easy but there is a growth trajectory," he said.

"I wouldn't like to be getting into mining or environmental science or retailing, but health and community services is No 1 in Australia and No 2 in the Illawarra [in terms of employment]. And it has got a growth bullet of 8 or 9 per cent a year growth.

"It will get easier and easier [to get a job] as we go along."

David Crowe, chief executive of Figtree Private Hospital, was also on the panel.

A trained nurse, he said he had only started his nursing studies because he hadn't been able to find a job by the time the first session commenced. He had now spent 20 years in the field, almost all of them at Figtree.

He said students would find it helpful to hear how the panel participants had found their jobs.

"I didn't really have a massive plan and I think you stumble across jobs a lot of the time and you don't realise what sort of scope there is in a job until you start it," Mr Crowe said.

"With my personal story, nursing just opened a world of doors for me. I've been very lucky and it's a great industry to be in because of that diversity."

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