Imagine completing your bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, working for the government for a few years then acquiring 10 years of international experience, before returning home to establish your own successful business and then losing everything due to war?
This is the story of 47 year old Fares Haddad from Syria who migrated to Australia in January 2017 with his family on a humanitarian refugee visa.
Fares graduated as a mechanical engineer from the University of Aleppo in 1998 and went to work for the Syrian Government as a supervisor assessing tender compliance. After two years, he moved to Russia and worked there for ten years, before returning to Syria to start his own import export business in mechanical spare parts.
The Syrian Civil War broke out in March 2011 and this was when everything fell apart for Fares, his family and fellow Syrian citizens. The crisis cost Fares his business and forced him to flee Syria with his family.
Fares and his family first fled to Lebanon where they were granted a humanitarian refugee visa for Australia. Fares and his family arrived in Australia in January 2017.
In Australia, Fares first enrolled in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at Victoria University, studying a Certificate II in Spoken and Written English before progressing to a Certificate III. In 2018, he transferred to Box Hill Institute to complete Settlement Language Pathways to Employment and Training (SPLET), which he successfully completed in one term.
Fares says that SPLET is important because it prepared and taught him to understand working in Australia. He learnt things that we may take for granted such as being able to read job descriptions, identifying the skills needed for a job and the process of a job interview. Fares is grateful for his SPLET teachers and their helpful tips and advice.
While studying SPLET, Fares got the opportunity to do work experience at the Salvation Army. Although it wasn't mechanical engineering, he learnt about multi-tasking and used these skills in future job interviews.
After SPLET, Fares obtained a three month internship at the Metro Tunnel Project working with a company called Career Seekers. This landed him a full time job and he is currently working as a Fuel Rental Plant Officer.
Fares has made the most of the training opportunities offered by the Metro Tunnel Project's training and recruitment centre, Metro Hub. He started Fire Warden Training, completed a First Aid course and is currently undertaking a Diploma in Project Management.