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Jobseekers Gain New Computing Skills For Free at Ara Connect

16 July, 2020

While New Zealanders may have all issued forth from their home-based ‘bubbles’, they’ve had to re-emerge into the harsh light of a post-COVID environment. This, increasingly, involves economic re-adjustments, retrenchments and other kinds of re-calculation.

For some in the New Zealand workforce, the necessity of closed borders and restricted trading have led to redundancies. Tarcille Roffey, a member of Air New Zealand’s international cabin crew, is one such individual. Tarcille, who is Christchurch-borne but has spent many years living in Italy before returning to New Zealand in order to take up a position with Air New Zealand, has recently found herself on the rough end of the airline’s financially-driven restructuring process.

She says “Because of COVID-19, with so many planes grounded, the profits of the company plummeted, especially in the international sector, which is where I was, so now I’m looking for new employment.”

Tarcille, who has also been kept busy raising two children, quickly realised that up-to-date computer skills are an absolute necessity for the modern job-seeker. “Because so many people have lost their jobs, we're realizing that it's quite a competitive world out there, with lots of job seekers and not that many jobs. You have to make yourself as competitive as possible, and I honestly believe now that no matter what field you're gone into computer skills are going to be necessary.”

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A friend suggested that Tarcille have a look at the Computing for Free options at Ara Connect centres.  From handy bases around the city, Ara Connect offers people self-paced computing courses, with flexible options ranging from the fundamentals of computing for beginners through to courses designed to build on existing skills, or lead to formal qualifications for employment.

“Ara Connect was recommended to me as an option for gaining some skills with Word and Excel especially. I go to the Hornby branch, and Des, Karen and Stephanie there have been lovely and very helpful; very patient and understanding and they don't make me feel stupid for not knowing simple things.”

Tarcille appreciated being able to fit her learning in around her own busy timetable. Ara Connect courses let learners complete classes at their own pace and at their own discretion – they can literally drop into any Ara Connect location at a time that suits them. Ara Connect centres are located in Christchurch as well as in Rangiora, Timaru and Oamaru and are open throughout the week, including evenings and Saturdays.

“It was good that it was self-paced, and you can use a physical book, so when you need to go back and find something you're not scrolling through a million pages onscreen, and you can get help from a real person if you need it.”

Tarcille says that she now feels more confident about her job search, and the range of options available to her.

“When I was looking at a job ad or saw anything about computer skills, I would just be going ‘that’s not for me’, as I had absolutely zero experience with computers. Now I do feel it has opened up a lot of possibilities.”

In addition to finding her ideal job, next on Tarcille’s agenda is mastering the complexity of Powerpoint.