From ammunition technician to healthcare: how two Whanganui women found a new path

Alicia Walker (left) and Nicole Aue want to pursue careers in healthcare. Photo / Karen Hughes

A free 13-week training propelled two Whanganui women into new careers in health care.

Hairdresser Nicole Aue and former New Zealand Army Ammunition Technician Alicia Walker completed the healthcare program at Training For You before enrolling in the New Zealand Diploma in Registered Nursing Level 5 at UCOL Whanganui.

Walker decided to take the course while working as a cleaner at Whanganui Hospital.

“I wanted to try because it was free and accessible, especially since my kids were school-aged. I signed up and got in, and that was the biggest decision I made.”

For Aue, joining the course responded to a lifelong interest in healthcare.

“I was nervous, I was moving away from hairdressing, something I was already comfortable, good at and confident in. But it worked really well.”

Graduates of the program receive the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing, Level 2.

Thanks to their work experience, Aue and Walker were offered jobs before the end of their course.

Aue said she wouldn’t have had the confidence or ability to do HCA (health care assistant) work without going to Training For You first.

“You work with vulnerable people. You have to have your intelligence, know your safety precautions and have that basic training.”

Some registered nurses she had met began their education journey at Training For You, Walker said.

“It gives you motivation. It helps kickstart that engine, especially for those who haven’t gone to college since graduating.”

Upon completion of the degree, they will consider continuing their education to Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Level 7.

Aue said she would like to become a paramedic.

“I still have a long journey but I’m really excited to continue.

“I want to be with St John, in the ambulances.”

Walker said the Training for You course was “a huge opportunity to grab,” with no financial commitment.

“We were unsure of our academic abilities and how far we could go, having not had an education in ages.”

The course gave her the “bite” into something she had always wanted to do, with the added bonus of making a good friend.

“I think if you’ve felt in the past that working in healthcare was out of your reach, then this is for you.

“Do it. Take the leap. There are a hundred ways to talk yourself out of it, but it only takes a second to be brave.

“Before you know it, it’s over and you walk away with qualification.”

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