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Commercial Education Society of Australia


I WAS a first generation Italian girl whose parents thought that I might be better off in a “white collar” job rather than the fruit shop. I didn’t particularly want to go and study after I had finished school and then work with a lot of other people who I didn’t know and wasn’t used to mixing with.

My parents looked around for colleges, and insisted that it must be private and that it must have independent exams. For parents who had little school education themselves, and whose English language was learnt through working with other people in factories and at the markets, this was a real surprise that they were able to do any research at all. They enrolled me in a college in Sydney that put everyone up for the CESA exams. I am not sure they knew exactly what the CESA was or what kind of exams they were, but they did find out that they were independent exams and that was what they wanted—exams where you would be judged fairly on what you produced yourself, not on whether someone took a liking to you or not.

My parents looked around for colleges, and insisted that it must be private and that it must have independent exams.

I was marched up to the college and enrolled in the full course which included shorthand, typing, bookkeeping, business English and office practice. Imagine my stress at all those subjects. I was sure that I would not like it at all. Shorthand was difficult and I have never had a job using shorthand. I slogged away. The one really bright thing was that it was the beginning of computers and the Principal was good at introducing new technology to the college. The computers were pretty basic compared to today’s laptops, but I really enjoyed using them and learning about them. There was no CESA exam for computers at that time, however I sat for all the other CESA exams and did well. I even passed the 110 wam shorthand speed, much to my surprise. My parents were thrilled that I was going to be a “white collar” worker.

When I finished my studies, I went armed with all my CESA certificates and, believe it or not, the reason I got the job was because I was an “all rounder” as the interviewer said. I would be able to pick up any administrative/clerical job and fit in almost immediately. The interviewer was impressed with the CESA exam certificates because she said that an independent exam was a better way of testing. Today, 25 years later, I am the senior manager of one of the largest private health care companies in Australia.

© Copyright CESA August 2013