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

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Tenants' Advice and Advocacy

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Why Australian businesses need to see the potential of mature-aged employees

Why Australian businesses need to see the potential of mature-aged employees

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

Australians are living and working longer, according to the latest data from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.  People over the age of 55 account for approximately 25% of the population and 16% of the total workforce.   

This is the fastest growing segment of the Australian population and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, yet Australia ranks only 13th among OECD countries in employment of people aged 55-64.  And this is an issue, for individual wellbeing, for the labour market, and for the economy. 

It will cost us all 

The Regional Australia Institute recently warned the government that lack of employment opportunities for older Australians, particularly in our regional areas, could negatively impact economic growth and increase the strain on public resources.  

There are some obvious economic consequences of an ageing population with limited job opportunities, such as decreasing number of tax payers and increasing aged pension costs, but it doesn’t stop there. Employment is key to a person’s wellbeing – not just their hip pocket, but also their feelings of self-worth. Long-term unemployment increases depression and other mental health issues, and this cost is passed on to our public health system. 

The cost isn’t just financial either.  By reducing the ability of older Australians to actively contribute to our workforce, we are losing untold amounts of experience – specialised industry experience, life experience and skills developed over an extended period in the workforce, such as problem solving and critical thinking.

Additionally, more workers create more demand and a stronger economy, which in turn leads to more jobs, so by marginalising mature-aged workers we are essentially disregarding a quarter of the population, and we all stand to lose. 

Employers can realise the benefits

There is an abundance of research out there that tells us that diversity in a workforce pays off for a business.  It increases innovation and enables businesses to connect with a multigenerational customer base, it keeps employees more engaged and the culture more positive.  A diverse, multigenerational workforce is a source of competitive advantage

Yet, according to a Human Rights Commission report, 27% of older Australians reported feeling discriminated against in the workplace and a third of those gave up looking for work as a result. There are two misconceptions about older Australians in the workforce that I hear often, and, in my opinion, play a significant role in age discrimination in our job market.   

Employers can feel that mature-aged employees are a cost, not an investment, e.g.  They’ll leave me after a few years to retire, so anything I spend in training or development is wasted”.   The reality is that Gen Z employees will likely leave in less than two years, and take those skills to another organisation. Compare this to the Baby Boomer generation who typically stay for 6+ years, and you’ll see that your older team members are likely to remain committed for a longer period, potentially right up to retirement.   

The other misconception is that mature-aged workers can’t adapt or learn new skills, but in fact, they typically have more resilience and can navigate uncertain times much better. In my own experience working in the employment industry, I have always found mature-aged job seekers eager to learn new skills, adaptable and keen to succeed in the workplace. 

Building confidence is important

What can be an issue for mature-aged workers is confidence, particularly following a redundancy.  Programs like Career Transition Assistance, a government backed program to help those over 55 to re-enter the workforce, are designed to turn that around.

These programs give mature-aged workers the confidence to re-join the labour market.  Participants build skills and increase their digital literacy, but also learn how to translate their existing skill bases into a digital world.  Older Australians can bring a wealth of experience and strong skillsets but often report feeling like these skills aren’t needed in today’s workplaces.  It’s about reframing these skills, so that both the individual and employers can see their potential. 

Small changes make a big difference 

To realise this potential, there are a few things employers can do to make the workplace more age-friendly. 

Mentoring programs are a fantastic way to harness the experience of mature-aged employees and create an inclusive workplace.  I’ve talked before about how mentoring has a positive impact on young people and engaging older employees to mentor them can prove a win/win.

As with any employee, providing continuous learning and training opportunities is key to engagement and this is no different for mature-aged employees. Part time and flexible opportunities can be great for older Australians too, and can be utilised as part of a phased retirement plan. Other changes are subtler and tend to apply when fostering any sort of diversity, such as embracing different communication styles to give everyone airtime.  

Engaging more mature-aged Australians is a must for individuals, employers and the Australian economy. There are around 85,000 older Australians currently looking for work, offering a wealth of experience and strong skills – if we can realise their potential, everyone will benefit.

Why Gen Z could be the answer to declining apprentice numbers

Why Gen Z could be the answer to declining apprentice numbers

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

By 2025, 31% of the Australian workforce will be from Generation Z (Gen Z), sometimes termed Post-Millennials.  Categorised as those born between 1995 and 2009, this generation have had digital technologies at their fingertips for their entire schooling and are unlikely to remember life before Google. 

Gen Z are the largest generation ever, accounting for around 20% of the Australian population. With skills shortages upon us or looming in most of our traditional trades, enticing them into apprenticeships must be a priority for all stakeholders from vocational education and training (VET) providers, to employers and regulators.

Evolving to meet the demands of emerging generations is key but change on this scale isn’t easy. Couple this with the fact that Gen Z are likely to have many careers in their lifetimes and attracting them to apprenticeships presents a challenge – but, in my opinion, not an insurmountable one.

Apprenticeships have much to offer

The previous generation, Gen Y, typically have high-levels of student debt, often from degrees that haven’t led to careers in their field of study.  Influenced by this, Gen Z are likely to be more gun shy when it comes to student debt. They are also multi-modal learners, meaning they don’t want to sit in a classroom passively listening – they want to be out there ‘doing’. 

In this sense, apprenticeships offer a clear advantage.  Many university degrees rely heavily on academic learning with practical application only beginning in the later stages. Apprenticeships, on the other hand, offer on-the-job learning (and earning!) from the outset.  

It’s the traditional Master/Apprentice model that will need to adapt.  Traditionally, in the first twelve months an apprentice is given unskilled labour tasks, like sweeping the shop floor.  Gen Z are different – they are tech-savvy, entrepreneurial in nature, and have little patience for repetitive tasks, so need to be engaged on a different level.

Expecting long-term loyalty from an apprentice is also a thing of the past. Gen Z will have five careers and seventeen jobs in their lifetimes. In Australia, under 25’s keep the same job for an average of 20 months, compared to 80 months for the 45+ age group. This high job mobility is a defining factor of the emerging generations and businesses need to come to terms with it.

Business mindsets will need to shift

We’re experiencing something unique in our labour market – we have four generations currently in the workforce, and it’s not uncommon to see a Baby Boomer managing a Gen Z employee.  Gen Z want to be led by collaborative leaders, who bring them in to decisions and give them opportunities to contribute beyond the confines of their role and experience.  Conversely, baby boomers are typically ‘directive’ leaders who prefer to set firm guidelines and stay in their own lanes. 

Gen Z apprentices will want to work on projects that have real outcomes, not just sweep the shop floor. They’ll want to know why things are being done in a certain way – and “because that’s how we do it” isn’t what they want to hear.  In fact, this answer can be a red rag to a bull!

Being so entrenched in the digital world, Gen Z bring a wealth of knowledge about technology, social media and other digital platforms and are incredibly innovative in their approach. Savvy businesses who can embrace what they bring, rather than being stuck in the mindset of ‘we’ve always done it this way’ will benefit.

Investing in training is also key.  A recent Deloitte study found that only 3 in 10 Gen Z employees across the globe feel they have developed the skills and knowledgethey will need to thrive in the workforce.

The VET sector can play a key role 

The high job mobility of Gen Z presents a number of challenges for our education sector – a key one being that learning needs to be continual and flexible. 

I’ve talked before about how the VET sector is being challenged to adapt to a more flexible, digital learning model. Gen Z will respond to this shorter, sharper needs-based learning model, that leverages digital platforms, gamification and virtual reality.  

The competency-based nature of VET means the sector is well-placed to respond, and I believe it is a challenge we can face head on, as long as we have the support of industry regulators. It’s no secret that the rigid assessment framework and long consultation period required to make changes to courses is not future-proof, and this is nowhere more evident than when it comes to meeting the learning needs of Generation Z.  

But, if employers, the sector and regulators can collaborate to evolve, apprenticeships can offer the right mix of practical application and study along with the ability to earn while you learn to attract Generation Z, and quite possibly, stave off skill shortages in the process.  

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

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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