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    NAIDOC Week 2018. Because of her, we can!


National Apprenticeships, Employment & Training Provider | VERTO Skill to Transform

VERTO is an award winning, not-for-profit organisation assisting businesses and individuals with all their apprenticeship, employment and training needs. Our expertise covers a range of areas including Aboriginal services, Australian apprenticeships services, disability services, employment services and vocational training to help businesses, individuals and local industry to thrive. Our mission is to positively impact the lives of individuals and communities and we’ve built a track record of exemplary customer service over 30 years, built around an ethical approach.You'll find the team in 26 locations across New South Wales.

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Community Programs

Community Programs

VERTO offers a number of community programs that focus on assisting and supporting disadvantaged individuals with their search for employment and managing daily life issues.
Indigenous Services

Indigenous Services

Tenants' Advice and Advocacy

Tenants' Advice and Advocacy

Disability Services

Disability Services

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How Skilled Migration can reverse population decline in regional Australia

How Skilled Migration can reverse population decline in regional Australia

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

It’s no secret that populations across regional Australia are on the decline, propelled by lack of employment opportunities. More and more people, particularly youth, make the exodus each year to pursue employment or further education in our cities. This can create a vicious cycle – more people choosing to leave a region make it less attractive to the big businesses who could provide the employment opportunities required for them to stay. 

Perhaps there is another solution, one that has the potential to benefit the whole community on a number of levels. The current Skilled Migration Visas for regional Australia make it easier for employers to sponsor skilled migrants, but a regional think tank is calling on the Turnbull Government to expand the system into a match-making program that would pair migrants with employment opportunities in regional communities.

And there is plenty of proof that skilled migration can work.  A great example comes from Nhill in Victoria, where the largest commercial business in the area, meat manufacturer Luv-a-Duck, needed more workers than the local economy could provide. Working with AMES Australia, they identified an opportunity to resettle Karen refugees from Melbourne who were looking for work. The Regional Australia Institute reported that the area experienced a significant uplift in population, community culture, and the economy – with a number of new businesses attracted to the area, creating more jobs for locals and newcomers alike.   

Communities can be enriched

Regional migration can bring a wealth of cultural and social benefits to local communities. In turn, settling in these communities offers migrants a great lifestyle, while also decreasing the demand on the infrastructure of our congested cities. 

Diversity can bring a cultural richness to an area and shape a new future for some of our oldest towns.  Look at a place like Dubbo; it’s now home to such a range of cultures that it hosts an annual Multicultural Festival, showcasing the diverse range of foods, cultures, and arts that locals have brought with them from their origins across the globe.

Moving to a regional area has many benefits for migrants too: Affordable housing, open space, and a family-friendly lifestyle, chief among them. Additionally, the lifestyle in our regional communities tends to be slower paced and more locally centred than in our cities, with significantly more opportunities for social interaction and to make new connections.  Migrants in regional Australia often experience more opportunities to shape and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways and build social networksthan their metropolitan counterparts.

In recent years, 151 regional areas across the country have effectively used international immigration to reverse population declinebut many more could realise the benefits. The key lies in providing the investment and resourcing to make these programs and communities sustainable in the long term.

It will take investment, resourcing and support

A match-making program, like the one proposed, could certainly be a step in the right direction, but it can’t happen in a vacuum. It will take more than simply matching skilled migrants with job opportunities, it’s got to be about future-proofing our regions, ensuring employment and educational opportunities, health facilities and infrastructure will continue to grow and evolve with the expanding population, otherwise failure rates are likely to be high. 

Without effective collaboration across levels of government and departments, there will be a risk of creating social discontent and ultimately, exacerbating population decline in the long-term. Support must start from the very beginning. As migrants are settling in to regional towns, Commonwealth support to help them access services and engage with their communities is vital.  

The data tells us that migrants who take up regional visas often move to cities once the mandatory period is up, so it’s even more important that local councils pick up the mantle when Commonwealth programs end, to create continuous support and opportunities for interaction in and contribution to the community. It’s often floated that longer mandatory periods are the answer, but in my opinion, it isn’t the best way.  Making people stay in an area doesn’t enrich a community – it can, and often does, do the opposite.  

A holistic approach is key

The key to the success of these programs and ultimately, reversing population decline, lies in creating an environment that enriches communities and ensures they are economically sustainable.  

If our governments can work together to take a holistic approach, that considers the economic, social and cultural aspects, skilled migration can play a significant role in reversing population decline and ensuring a strong future for regional Australia.   


VERTO contributes to the future of our community

VERTO contributes to the future of our community

This NAIDOC week the theme is “Because of her, I can…”. For the team at VERTO, this is a poignant one, as the key leader of our Indigenous program, Mary Croaker, embodies this theme perfectly. 

Mary has been involved in the Central West Indigenous community all her life, having grown up in the area as well as working in it, in a number of professional roles across her working life. Now the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) Coordinator for VERTO, Mary is directly responsible for running VERTO’s Youth Leadership Program.

The program is focused on improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal students, helping them to gain valuable leadership skills. VERTO delivers the Youth Leadership Program through funding provided by the Australian Government as part of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

We think it’s best to highlight Mary’s excellent work in this space in her own words:

“I started just over a year ago with VERTO, focusing on the Indigenous programs we run throughout the Central West community. For me, it’s something very close to my heart, being both emotionally and professionally connected with our community for such a long time. Helping our youth is absolutely crucial, so as an area of focus it’s something I’m incredibly proud to be a part of.  

In my personal view, our Youth Leadership Program is all about enhancing our children. I personally don’t like the word empower, these kids are already empowered, and it’s our job to just add the environment, one in which they can learn the additional skills they need, those that will help them when they enter their post-school years. If we can help them grow as young leaders, then the chance is there for them to follow their dreams and break the cycle that so often holds our children back. 

Being able to represent our community, to engage the Elders and Women’s groups, to bring to life our culture, is something that I feel has really made a difference. Their views and voices have become a part of our program. 

The children participating in it…they have become incredibly important to me. The way the leadership skills they learn make a difference: I see a lift in the way they see themselves. We’re able to help define the questions about their heritage and help them find the answers they need, it truly lights them up from the inside, like oxygen to fire. It’s something I’m truly proud of. 

It’s really making a difference. I see so many examples of local children learning invaluable leadership and life skills. It’s given us so many success stories at VERTO. 

One example really stands out for me: Recently, a group of young girls from a local Year 7 class we work with, showed how the program can help our youth. We had an opportunity for a girls dance group to participate this week in NAIDOC activities, and I was struggling to find the right group to be involved. When these girls heard what I needed, they took it upon themselves to become involved, proactively approaching me about participating. They stood up, took a leadership position and said, ‘We want to be involved’. Not only did they become involved, they took over everything from the specific dance they want to perform to the music, right down to the costumes they wish to wear. It’s a great example of how being involved in the program for just two years has grown the confidence and leadership skills in these young women. 

There are just so many good stories about the results we’ve achieved. I’m very proud of what the VERTO program has contributed to our community.”

Mary Croaker

How technology will revolutionise Vocational Education and Training (VET)

How technology will revolutionise Vocational Education and Training (VET)

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

Technology is rapidly changing every industry across the globe, and education is no exception. In the last five years, the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector has seen many face-to-face courses migrate to online learning, but as concepts such as gamification and virtual reality take hold, a revolution is taking place in our education sector.

In their infancy, online learning platforms were largely a repository for digital course notes rather than enhancing the learning experience.  As a result, in the VET sector, completion rates for online courses were, and continue to be, lower than for face-to-face equivalents.  But as technology advances, a significant shift in the opposite direction is predicted.

Opportunities abound

While classroom learning will continue to play a role, it’s already taking a back seat to technologies that offer the ability to learn where, when and how the student wants.  I experienced this first hand when my son wanted to learn Chinese.  Rather than enrol in a course, he downloaded apps to teach himself the core components of the language, and then extended his knowledge by interacting online with native speakers.  When he became more advanced, he even changed the language on his phone to Chinese, immersing himself in it via technology.  

Self-paced and personalised learning is what the digital native generation want, and it can help employers too, particularly in regional areas.  It’s not uncommon for a regional employer to need to send an apprentice or trainee to a city for study, meaning the business loses a resource and the student must study in an unfamiliar environment, away from their support network. As it stands today, there are also some courses that aren’t available in regional areas, meaning students must move to cities, or choose a different career path.  Online learning has the power to open courses and career paths to a wider audience.

Concepts such as artificial intelligence and gamification, whereby aspects from gaming, such as point scoring and token collecting are integrated into assessments, offer engaging educational experiences.  Done well, they can be used to teach vocational skills, while also developing problem solving and critical thinking abilities and enhancing digital literacy.  

Lifelong learning is key

Digital learning is far more flexible, allowing people to dip in and out of education throughout their careers, studying smaller units to assist with a project or address an immediate challenge.  It’s often said that the only constant is change, and this true now more than ever – lifelong learning is critical to keep up with the rapid pace of technology.

This is a global problem. Head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, recently discussed the need for the education industry across the globe to reinvent itself saying, “this is not just about adding a few more coding lessons. It is about fostering critical thinking, independent problem-solving, and lifelong learning that can help people adapt to change”.

Face-to-face experiences will evolve

While technology can replace classroom experiences to some extent, it’s not a replacement for face-to-face learning.  Face-to-face experiences are important to develop communication and work-based skills, and so they must evolve rather than be eradicated.  

I’ve talked before about the importance of mentoring in apprenticeships and there is an opportunity for mentoring programs to play a stronger role in the face-to-face component of study.  In fact, many of today’s most successful online programs sit alongside strong mentoring programs.

There are challenges too

While the rapid rise of technology in education presents opportunities, it’s not without challenges; some of which can be addressed by the industry, while others will need government intervention.

For the entire education sector, it will require a significant paradigm shift. Teachers will need advanced digital literacy to understand educational technology and prepare students for the ever-growing range of technologies in the workforce. And these skills will need to be updated regularly if they are to remain relevant.

It’s expensive too. Investing in digital infrastructure is an expensive upfront cost, albeit one that will most likely lead to significantly lower marginal costs in the future.  There are ways around this, such as using third-party technology, but this brings its own risks. The other issue with these platforms is that is assumes every student has equal access to smartphones or tablets.  This is simply not true, and there is a danger of increasing inequality.

Governments must get on board with the innovations and regulatory changes that will enable the shift to online learning.  The Australian Skills Quality Authority (AQSA) has made some inroads, as has the Department of Employment, with their digital platform for job seekers, but there is more work to be done.  

I’ve previously discussed the long consultation process required to make changes to accredited courses, and the challenges it presents, but this is felt most keenly when it comes to keeping up with technology.  In many cases, by the time a course is approved, it’s already out of date.

But these challenges can be overcome. It will take governments and providers working more closely, to collaborate and innovate, but doing so could revolutionise the way we learn, and put Australia on the front foot, as we head further into the digital age.

VERTO’s best and brightest showcased at Worldskills National Championships

VERTO’s best and brightest showcased at Worldskills National Championships

VERTO is proud to announce 18 of its apprentices competed in the WorldSkills Australia National Championships, held at the International Convention Centre Darling Harbour in Sydney on 2-4 June, 2018.

The National Championships is Australia’s largest and most successful vocational education excellence competition. This year’s event showcased over 50 different trade and skill categories and brought together over 400 of the countries best and brightest apprentices and trainees to vie for the title of ‘National Champion.’

17 of VERTO’s 18 competitors finished in the top 10 in their categories, with VERTO apprentice Adam Dixon awarded the Silver medal for welding. Based in Port Macquarie, Adam is currently completing his second apprenticeship and works at engineering firm, Birdon.

Commenting on the competition, VERTO Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, said “We are proud of the success of the competitors from VERTO. All of them are excelling in their fields and are great ambassadors for their trade and employers.

“The WordSkills competition presents a great opportunity to highlight and showcase the vast opportunities that apprenticeships and traineeships offer school leavers and jobseekers at large.”

What our
clients say . . .

  • "Our local VERTO group of consultants have been in the business for many years now and have a very strong knowledge of the requirements of our apprentices and trainees. The team are always available to answer any questions that may arise, making their customer service excellent. It is with their commitment and dedication that we as a large company are able to achieve an above average completion rate for our apprentices and trainees."

    Mark Smith, Director - Masterfoods
  • "Our local VERTO group of consultants have been in the business for many years now and have a very strong knowledge of the requirements of our apprentices and trainees. The team are always available to answer any questions that may arise, making their customer service excellent. It is with their commitment and dedication that we as a large company are able to achieve an above average completion rate for our apprentices and trainees."

    Mark Smith, Director - Masterfoods

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