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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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VERTO Acquires Western College Dubbo

VERTO Acquires Western College Dubbo

10 October, 2018

VERTO has today announced that it will acquire leading Western NSW training institution, Western College. The acquisition sees Western College join the VERTO business, while retaining its current name and operating base in Dubbo, NSW. 

VERTO is committed to continuing the outstanding work that has already been done by Western College throughout the Dubbo region. The two organisations have a rich history of partnership, working together on a number of joint projects.

Commenting on the purchase, VERTO President, Andrew Abel, said “We are excited to see Western College join the VERTO family. This acquisition forms a part of a broader strategy at VERTO, looking at how we can grow our service offering and capability to deliver to communities across NSW and Australia. Western College is a perfect fit for our business, with our two organisations sharing many similarities.”

VERTO Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, believes their long associations will only help in making the transition easier for both businesses. He added, “Our growth strategy has seen VERTO increase the services we offer in other parts of NSW, such as the recent addition of new employment services across the North Coast. The expansion allows us to grow our presence in Western NSW, where Western College has built a reputation for delivering quality services. And importantly, we will be able to provide additional assistance to the local community, in the form of apprenticeship and employment services.”

Western College Chairman, Rod Crowfoot, agrees that the acquisition by VERTO is a positive for the college. “VERTO have demonstrated their ability to deliver programs across NSW that add real value for their clients. We’re excited about the future and the services that Western College will be able to deliver across the region,” Crowfoot said.

While continuing to operate as Western College, there will be some minor changes to branding to incorporate the VERTO name. Western College operations will also continue as normal. “We expect minimal disruption while integrating the Western College operations into the wider VERTO business,” added Maxwell.

Why teaching entrepreneurial skills in our schools is key to Australia's future

Why teaching entrepreneurial skills in our schools is key to Australia's future

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

Our labour market is changing rapidly. We know that younger generations are likely to have around five careers and seventeen jobs over the course of their lifetimes, and for the generations still at school, the jobs many of them will have simply don't exist yet. 

So how we prepare our young people for the workforce must also adapt. From our career guidance programs to school curricula, we should be preparing students for the uncertainty of a changing market to give them the resilience and agility to succeed.  

How we do this is a big question, and a key challenge facing Australia's education sector today.  In my opinion, the answer lies in developing entrepreneurial skillsets – and for me the soft skills are key; commercial judgement, critical and meta thinking, creativity, collaboration, networking and communication skills. It is these skills, in my opinion, that will give our up and coming generations the confidence, agility and know-how to thrive across industries, job roles and careers. 

Employers want soft skills

They are also the skills that forward-thinking employers are looking for.  Where once large companies stipulated the qualifications and experience they were seeking, today it is much more about these soft skills, and this is only set to grow.  In fact, research by the World Economic Forum into the skillsets employers will want in 2020, found the top three to be analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies and creativity, originality and initiative. 

What I often hear from employers is that this is driven by a belief that it's far easier to build technical knowledge than it is to teach these soft skills.  And this suggests to me, that it lies with our school systems to develop these skills at an early age. 

I've talked before about the lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills we often see in school leavers entering the workforce, but with our job market shifting so quickly, the time has come for this to change.

In September, a large-scale overhaul of the NSW school curriculum was launched, and one of the key battle grounds is hard facts vs soft skills.  I believe there is a place for both in a future-proofed education system,  the key is in finding the balance and focusing education  on ensuring our school leavers have employable skills, that will allow them to succeed across industries - not just in a local market, but in a truly global one as well. 

Career guidance and mentoring have a role to play 

A big part of this also comes down to career guidance. Traditional career guidance programs tend to focus on helping students choose a career path, but in a world where these students are likely to have five careers, this is rapidly losing relevance.  When I talk to young apprentices, what I am finding is that they really need the tools to manage a diverse and changing career, rather than help on deciding what that career is. 

 It's no secret that I am a huge fan of mentoring programs, and I think these could have a significant role to play in developing these core soft skills, particularly if we can find a way to incorporate them into our schools.   I see the growth in our apprentices who are part of formal or informal mentoring programs.  Mentoring doesn’t usually build technical skills, it develops and supports these very skills we are talking about - critical thinking and problem-solving - and gives young people a sounding board to discuss challenges and ideas.  Through mentoring programs, they will learn not from a textbook, but from real lived experience, and that is invaluable in any industry. 

Apprentices will benefit

Entrepreneurial skillsets are often talked about by the media as being in the realm of the technology space and office jobs, but they are equally, if not more so, applicable to today's apprentice. With growing skills shortages threatening many of our traditional trades, the opportunities for apprentices to build successful businesses of their own are also growing rapidly.  If apprentices are going to capitalise on this opportunity, they need more than trade skills – they need to understand how a business works and have sound commercial judgement.

The growth of the 'gig economy', the emergence of a thriving freelance and contractor market across almost every industry, also means that all young people will benefit from having the core skills to run their own businesses – whether these be long-term propositions or short-term fixes for a period of unemployment, uncertainty or life change.

The idea of developing entrepreneurial skills in schools is not an educational fad, or a new idea; giving our young people a foundation in commercial and interpersonal skills is key if Australians are going to compete in a global job market.   Those responsible for overhauling the NSW education system are getting the message loud and clear from many angles – and we will all be waiting eagerly for the outcomes. 

Why our youth can't wait for mental health services

Why our youth can't wait for mental health services

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

The state of youth mental health in our regional areas is close to breaking point.  With a lack of dedicated mental health services, an understaffed and underfunded public system, and no obvious strategy to combat this growing problem, those who need support in our regional areas are often faced with long waiting lists. In many cases, these people are at crisis point – and waiting is the last thing we should be asking of them. 

In our work at VERTO, we often see the mental health impacts of long-term unemployment, but in some cases, we are starting to see these same symptoms in the short-term unemployed too.  Anecdotally, we're seeing an increase in mental health issues amongst our clients in the 15-24 age range, and this should be a concern for us all. 

recent report on the state of mental health in regional Victoria tells a frightening story – communities overwhelmed by drug and alcohol use, lack of employment, and most worryingly, lack of access to vital health services. And the outlook is no different for many regional areas across the country.

Beyond the extensive personal impacts, on individual sufferers, on their families and support networks, mental health is costing all Australians. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, the costs of mental health can exceed 4% of a country's GDP. Conversely, proper treatment of depression and anxiety returns $4 for every $1 spent

In Australia, mental health issues account for almost 15% of the health burden, yet only receive 5% of the health budget.  There is a clear problem here, that our governments need to address but, in the meantime, we all need to play a role in improving youth mental health within our communities.  

While awareness campaigns such as RUOK Day are great for helping to take the stigma away from mental health, there’s more to do in ensuring we keep this top of mind. It will take a long term approach to find the right solution. 

And social media use may be compounding the problem. While there are many great things online networks offer, young people may find themselves spending more time online than face to face making the connections that form a support network. And there is some evidence out there that the more time children spend chatting online, the less happy they feel. In my opinion, there is also a widening gap between the realities of the workplace and young people's expectations, and this may be another cause of anxiety.

 Whatever the causes, there is no denying that there has been a decline in the mental health of young people across Australia, and this is exacerbated in regional areas where numerous factors – higher drug and alcohol consumption, less access to employment, and lack of health services – are creating the perfect storm. 

There are some organisations that are making inroads. At VERTO, we work with youth mental health organisation, Headspace, to refer young people at risk to the services they need.  By all accounts, this is a fantastic service that is really targeted at young people, addresses the challenges they are facing, and talks to them in a way they can connect with.  I was gladdened recently, to hear that Headspace are piloting school mental health programs in the Orange area, which really can make a difference.  

Youth mental health is an issue I am so passionate about and, I believe, we can all look at ways to make a difference, particularly local businesses who may be able to offer resources that will help grow services in their local community. At VERTO, for example, we provide training spaces free of charge to Lifeline to train more local people as counsellors so that they can increase their impact in the communities we serve. 

But we still need a public health system that is poised and ready to support the work of organisations like Headspace and Lifeline, when medical intervention is required – without this missing puzzle piece, we stand to have young people that are subjected to long waiting lists to get critical services.  

With the youth suicide rates in Australia skyrocketing, I think we can all agree, that this is something that simply can't wait. 

 If you or someone in your life is experiencing challenges with mental health, don't be afraid to reach out.  You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or Headspace on 1800 650 890. 

The future of retail in Regional Australia

The future of retail in Regional Australia

By Ron Maxwell CEO - Nearly eight million Australians call our regional areas home, and in most of these areas, the retail sector is amongst the biggest employers. But the retail sector is rapidly changing, and the shift to online presents challenges for regional areas.  When you consider that regionally-based employees account for around a third of the entire Australian workforce, it's a problem that needs addressing.

You can often tell a lot about the economic health of a region by examining its number of commercial vacancies and for many rural and regional townships, these figures are on a sharp incline. Additionally, The Regional Australia Institute released its annual report on job vulnerability last week and found that retail checkout operators are amongst the most vulnerable in the country, due to the role's susceptibility to automation.

It's not all bad news, however. Face-to-face retail still has a role to play in our regional communities, particularly those where main street shopping hubs still act as the heart of the community – the key is in providing an excellent customer experience. Online too, can present opportunities in other areas, such as warehousing and logistics, but it will require action from all levels of government.

Local authorities must get on board

To realise these opportunities, it will take collaborative action between local, state and federal authorities. While it's often noted that our governments aren’t hugely successful when it comes to large-scale coordinated responses, there are a few in the works right now that could make a difference.

Transport projects, such as the Parkes Inland Rail, will make these areas more appealing to big business, combined with their open space, cheaper rents, and access to a ready, willing and large workforce.

These projects are often driven by local authorities and business chambers with a clear vision for the future and a commitment to seeing it through. Often, this is local council and businesses working together to advocate for their region and lobby state or federal governments for the services they need to thrive into the future.

Local authorities must step up and take initiative or risk being left behind in a landscape that is dominated by online retailers, often large multi-national corporations with the ability to offer more competitive prices than local stores. One example of this is the Parkes Council, in the NSW Central West, who pitched to online retailing giant, Amazon, when they heard the business was seeking a location for a fulfillment centre.

Federal government must step in

Unfortunately, while the initiative taken by Parkes was commendable, Amazon ultimately chose to situate its warehouse in the outer Sydney suburbs.  And this is part of the problem.

Making regional areas more attractive to big business must be on the top of the agenda for our political leaders. In fact, a recent parliamentary committee report recommended "examining incentives and strategies to improve private sector investment in regional areas" is key to regional development.

And there have been some inroads into this, initiatives such as the skilled migrant visa programs that encourage migrants to settle in regional towns are stemming population decline and bringing new skillsets to the areas, which may make them more attractive to corporates. But there is considerably more work to be done.

Young people, existing employees, must prepare

While we await broader government solutions to address these challenges, there are some things young people and existing retail employees can do to boost their chances of success in an evolving industry.

Technology is playing an increasing role in retail and it’s important, particularly for older people who aren't 'digital natives', to build the skills that will help them thrive in a digital world. Programs like the federal government's Career Transition Assistance program, which will be run by VERTO in Central West NSW, offer older people the opportunity to develop digital literacy and confidence with a range of devices to increase their employability.

Social and interpersonal skills, particularly for our younger generation who often haven't learnt these skills due to the increase in online interaction, are also key.  Delivering a tailored and memorable customer experience is important to keep local bricks-and-mortar stores trading and a big part of that is how you interact with customers.  For many retailers, it can be their only point of difference in an online world.

Individuals in retail will need to build the skills to strengthen their careers today, while the government, hopefully, plans for tomorrow. Local authorities and business chambers will need to step up their initiatives and play an advocacy role for their local area. 

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
  • "VERTO’s highly professional and dedicated Careergate™ team have been immensely conducive to our Post School Options Program. We were fortunate to have them as Guest Speakers at a work readiness program preparing students for the world of work. VERTO have gone above and beyond their commitment to our students, delivering information about apprenticeships and traineeships, and helping develop their knowledge about the job seeking cycle."

    Suza Puljic, Specialist Teacher Student Services - Catholic Education Diocese
  • "THE VERTO team are fantastic and we appreciate their expertise and support. They always go the extra mile in everything they do…. nothing is ever too much trouble."

    Samantha Palise, Pathways Program Manager - Mid Coast Connect
  • "VERTO provide great advice and support throughout the entire recruitment process, from assisting with the position description and advertising, receiving applications, to providing office space for interviews. Friendly professionalism, courtesy and prompt responses all added to a positive result – which our organisation greatly appreciates."

    Jenny Bell, Manager - Cowra Tourism Corporation
  • "VERTO care about my wellbeing and helped me find a great job! I now work outdoors with a friendly bunch of people, for a local employer that treats employees with compassion and understanding. I’m now looking forward to a long term future in the workforce."

    Liam McFarlane - Former Job Seeker
  • "The disability employment services team are very caring. They take time with me and for me and are very understanding. They go above and beyond to help me in all aspects, not just employment."

    Stephen - DES Client
  • "VERTO has been very flexible and helpful with my training needs. The consultants and Trainers have been fantastic and there is always someone around to help me when I need support."

    Natasha Kauri - Learner
  • "VERTO responded professionally and efficiently to all requests for help. I cannot thank the organisation enough for their positive and professional manner."

    Rachael Jefferson-Buchanan - Tenancy Client
  • "Our VERTO consultant provides exceptional customer service, expertly handling all our traineeship needs and being available whenever we need information or advice."

    Kay Dhami, Managing Director - My Kindy Early Learning Centres
  • "Our VERTO Consultant has demonstrated significant industry knowledge and developed a tailored approach to our business needs time and time again."

    Jordan Shoveller, Duty Manager - Davistown RSL

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