Father-of-four Mark had been working as a painter for 20 years when a workplace accident suddenly threw his career into disarray.
“I injured my knee on the job, and two operations later it’s still no good; I’ve got no meniscus in my knee so it’s bone on bone,” explains Mark.
“Heavy lifting and manual work wasn’t an option anymore, so I had no idea what I was going to do for work.”
Mark met with EPIC employment consultant Sharon Armstrong, who worked with him to identify his interests and build career options.
“I’d gotten into hobby jewellery making, and become a member of the Gem Club. I’d been learning some jewellery making techniques like faceting and was really enjoying it,” said Mark.
When a jewellery role became available at Gold River Jewellers, the well-known jewellery business producing high-quality repairs and handmade jewellery for over 22 years on Brisbane’s north side, Sharon insisted Mark put his name forward.
“I was definitely interested in the job, but wasn’t sure they’d employ me because I didn’t have experience with jewellery making professionally,” said Mark.
Luckily, with some gentle prompting, Mark decided to give it a go and was successful.
Gold River Jewellers co-founder Darren Ryan could see great potential in Mark and knew that his passion and interest in jewellery making could make him a great asset to the business.
“Mark’s position is better than an apprenticeship because it’s completely hands-on learning on the job,” said Darren.
“Being able to guide my staff, and pass along my knowledge and experience is a rewarding part of my job. A lot of my staff have gone on to win prizes and make a name for themselves, and that makes me proud.”
Darren, who has 33 years’ experience in the jewellery making field, can see a bright future for Mark.
“Mark will certainly move forward in the next couple of years. Even now he says, ‘remember when I first started and I couldn’t do this or that’; he’s come a long way and he’s going to be successful. I can tell,” said Darren.
“He’s hungry to work, he shows up on time, he’s got initiative. Hiring an older guy with work experience and a good work ethic has been a positive thing for us.”
Mark believes his injury may have been a ‘blessing in disguise’ of sorts, allowing him to step into a career with greater longevity.
“A lot of guys in manual labour jobs do struggle with the physical aspects of the job as they get older, and if they don’t want to get into supervisory or management roles, they face a predicament. But I’m really pleased I will be able to do this job until I retire; it suits me well,” said Mark.
“Out of a bad thing has come a great thing.”