Nolan Vargas started his apprenticeship in carpentry almost 30 years ago and has been working in the industry ever since. But he never got around to completing his qualification. All that changed around 2016 when he was offered the opportunity to go back to the classroom and complete his studies.
From Frustration to Addiction
Nolan knew that with all the discussion about new regulations in the industry, he had to pursue his studies. But returning to the classroom was “definitely not easy”. Nolan says it took him the first two weeks to “get his head around it. There was a lot of frustration, a lot of close to tears sort of emotions. I had to learn to be a student again.”
But Nolan was determined not to give up. With perseverance, his family’s support and the encouragement of TIV, he went on to not only complete a Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) but also a Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Estimating), a Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Site Management) and a Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) – all at the Trade Institute of Victoria (TIV). He’s even eager for TIV to introduce a Builder’s Licence course. He readily admits that he’s addicted to learning.
Team Effort at TIV
So what is it about TIV that makes students want to keep learning? According to Nolan it’s the fact that:
“There was no fluff with the teachers. There was none of this pretence. It was direct, it was concise and it was done in a way where respect is shown to the students.”
But it was also an enjoyable experience. “There was fun in it,” Nolan says. “We had a laugh. There was a diverse group of people from all walks of life, different backgrounds and different ages. And it didn’t matter. What mattered was we all had the same goal. And we all kind of had the same focus and as a result we were all aiming to help each other succeed.”
Face to Face Learning v The Virtual Classroom
After settling into his new role as a student, Nolan found that he loved attending class in person. He was lucky enough to finish all his courses bar one subject via this method. He says, “I preferred the face to face because I wanted to go. I wanted to sit down in front of the class. I wanted to participate in the group chats and group discussions.” Nolan adds “I quite enjoyed socialising with the teachers and other students as well.”
When COVID hit and the classroom became a virtual one, Nolan adapted even though it was difficult studying from home with 4 children in the house. He credits his wife with helping keep the environment fairly quiet so he could continue studying and complete his Diploma.
Favourite TIV Course
Nolan finds it impossible to pick his favourite course but rather found that they all tied together. Even the Estimating course broadened his knowledge. He explains, “I got a better understanding of whether I was going about things the right way based on what I knew. I wanted to broaden my understanding of estimating from a commercial perspective, which is something I always thought I knew. I learnt a lot.”
At the age of 50, why?
Nolan knows that people think this – why would someone go back to the classroom later in life when they already have a wealth of hands on experience?
But Nolan sees it as an opportunity to be better at what he does and to make the industry better. Inspired by his parents and sister, he firmly believes that it’s never too late to return to study. And in doing so, he hopes he’s also inspiring his children.
While it wasn’t easy to begin with, Nolan says he “learnt a valuable lesson in going back to school. I learnt to forgive myself for not knowing everything.”