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Why it’s never too late to follow your dreams

Michelle Doughty was a wife and a mum when she decided to embark upon a new chapter in her life – retraining for her dream career. 

It’s not the typical sequence of milestones in life, but Michelle believes “you’re never too old to start something new”. 

And Michelle was right. The 39-year-old was recently announced as the winner of the ‘Bob Marshman’ Trainee of the Year in the Central Queensland Regional finals of the Queensland Training Awards.

The ceremony took place 21 July at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre, where a nervous yet excited Michelle accepted the award, which was sponsored by BUSY at Work. 

Now Michelle will head to Brisbane on the 8 September to attend the state finals of the Queensland Training Awards.

She faces tough competition; a finalist from each of the other regions in Queensland.

But tough competition is a well-worn experience for a mum retraining to re-enter the workforce. 

Flash back just a few years ago and Michelle was considering her previous background in conservation and environmental research.

She decided to follow her instincts and enrolled at Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges (QATC) to begin retraining for her new chapter.

She undertook a AHC31416 Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management, because she knew “QATC ensures you are job ready”.

“QATC was my preference because of the quality of the courses, the flexibility of the schedules and the availability of the trainers,” she says.

“I can’t thank Cecil Dotti, Shirley Phillips and Elizabeth James enough for their ongoing support and guidance. 

“Cecil went above and beyond for me and made the process smooth and easy to understand.”

While she studied, Michelle worked as trainee ranger with Central Highlands Regional Council. Her tenacity, hard work and diligence lead to an offer of a full time role at the council once her traineeship was complete. 

“My current role as a ranger involves urban and rural aspects of compliance,” she explains. “This has enabled me to draw on my training as it is very relevant to my role as a ranger in restoring and conserving areas of significance for future generations.”

In addition to completing her traineeship and undertaking fulltime work, Michelle has enrolled in a Certificate IV in Government Investigations to improve her future prospects as a ranger officer.

She is able to undertake on-the-job conservation and land management duties while she learns, which she says makes all the difference to her experience and her confidence. 

“Now that I have full time employment with the council, I feel as if what I started with during my traineeship I can now continue the relationships I have built,” she says.

“Particularly with stakeholders like the Department of Agricultural and Fishers, Queensland Police and landholders in my area.”

Her positive experience studying at QATC and in her subsequent role at council has really driven home the importance of retraining for Michelle. 

“Looking back, I can see how important it is to gain recognised training. It’s something that you can take with you and build upon as you walk through life.”

Michelle says that it’s important for those looking to re-enter the workforce, particularly mothers, follow their heart on what they want to do and throw their full weight behind that goal. 

“I have always had a passion for the restoration and regeneration of natural areas,” she says.

“It wasn’t until after having a family and finding myself very unskilled in the workplace that the decision was made, I wanted this to be a career.”

She says one of the best things to come out of her experience at QATC is that she now feels like a positive role model for her children. 

As she says, "you’re never too old to start something new.”

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