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Apprenticeships, Employment & Training Provider | VERTO

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 35 years, built around an ethical approach.You'll find the team in over 40 locations across New South Wales.

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Is sending your kid to uni really worth it?

Is sending your kid to uni really worth it?

Louise Roberts

As published in The Daily Telegraph, June 12, 2019 6:00pm

 

The dilemma of whether their child should pursue a university degree is front of mind for many Sydney parents with HSC mock exams on the horizon and career anxiety turning up a notch.

But it’s not just the exorbitant cost involved.

I’m convinced that uni education should now come with a warning — don’t expect your time here to prepare you for life. Or a job.

There’s no doubt our halls of higher learning have suffered some serious reputational damage, must of it self-inflicted.

Only last week this newspaper revealed that some Sydney Uni students are campaigning to tear down a statue of William Wentworth — a pioneer of this great city who came from convict stock — because he is a “known racist”.

Wednesday night, on Sky News, Sydney University student Will Jeffries explained how “equity officers’ were crucifying debate in the classroom to the point where students had to state their pronouns (I’m she or her for the record) before stating their arguments.

When I think of my 15-year-old son’s education going forward, I often recall his first day of school.

Dressed in scratchy poly-cotton uniform and top-heavy with a backpack, he stood before me so excited that my heart swelled as I saw his educational future stretching out before him as a glorious highway of opportunity.

Just think what they’ll be when they grow up, you daydream while cutting another cheese and Vegemite sandwich.

A few scraped knees, maths tests and swimming carnivals later and like me, you now identify as a high school parent.

And that’s when the fear sets in. After HSC, what’s next?

A university degree, yes that’s it. The marker of achievement. Well done, instant and continual employment to follow. Right? Not so fast.

Lately, my fellow parents and I are having conversations of a different vein with our teenagers, our sons to be specific.

They are raising with us — rather than us with them — the issue of employability and relevance with a BA or some such after their name.

Or as my son asks: how do you know that the debt acquired and time spent at university will get you a job?

A valid point requiring a deep-rooted re think of how we used to worship the concept of university education.

Perhaps it’s time for an overhaul so our kids are incentivised also consider vocational education — plumbing, electrician or building — before tackling the traditional white collar degree with an eye towards a profession like law, medicine, or banking.

We are churning out kids from a system driven by student demand.

Degree ticked off, the belief is they will be able to secure roles in their chosen field. Tertiary education should meet the needs of industry rather than training as many students as possible on a conveyor belt to career oblivion.

But that is not happening, of course.

The Federal Government surveyed more than 120,000 university graduates last year. Pharmacy (97.2 per cent) and medicine (94.9 per cent) degrees had the best job prospects. They are the exception.

Creative arts graduates were at the bottom with only 52.2 per cent full-time employment in the short term.

Anecdotally, I’m being told people involved in hiring panels are saying they don’t actually want to talk to these uni kids any more. “The quality is miserable, I’d rather someone from the real world that hasn’t gone through all that nonsense.”

Sobering, isn’t it?

Yet Gary Workman, Executive Director of Apprentice Employment Network which employs over 30,000 apprentices and trainees says that there is still a stigma attached to trade.

Kids in year 9 and 10 who are ‘pushed’ towards plumbing, carpentry, and the like are made to feel they are not smart enough despite 95 per cent of trade graduates being hired full time, he says.

However in Europe, and especially Switzerland, from year 9 they do a school based apprenticeship plus traditional subjects so they leave school with practical and academic skills plus a trade qualification. A gift to employers, illustrated by youth unemployment rate of two per cent compared to ours which can be as high as 25 per cent in some areas.

Going to uni does not future proof your kids, no matter their aspirations or yours.

Part of the problem is career advisers who have been to uni themselves, and for whom higher education is the path they are comfortable talking about.

Workman says: “The automotive industry is overlooked by career advisers because we don’t manufacture cars here anymore even though there’s plenty of future-proofed jobs like autonomous cars, such as 3D printing and so on.”

“Parents need to be realistic — focus on what practical skills your kids can learn rather than prestige degrees.”

“Kids are being pushed to university thinking that is the panacea for life after school and aged 23 or 24 wondering why they can’t get a job.”

I have a colleague whose son is planning a uni course in materials science and engineering but at age 17 is savvy enough to recognise the value of getting a trade qualification — in this case welding.

His father says that coming from a family of middle-class professional degree holders, the idea was initially shocking, until his son explained his logic.

“He said that way he would have money to go to university, and a skill, and understand what he was doing when he went to uni.”

“He said the thing that worried him was friends going to university for arts degrees who won’t necessarily be able to get a job and he just didn’t want to have to have that problem.”

The question for you and me as parents is this: Would you rather your child get a degree that you can brag about and potentially be unemployed or be out actually learning and using a skill that’s going to be in demand so he or she will likely always have a job?

Our children deserve that answer — and in their interest, not ours.

Employment is a key topic post the 2019 election

Employment is a key topic post the 2019 election

By Ron Maxwell - CEO 

Now that both the federal and New South Wales elections are done and dusted, it’s time to focus on the period ahead. With Vocational Education and Training (VET) high on the agenda, it’s certainly going to be an interesting period. I’m hopeful that the focus will lead to further action in this space. 

For me, there are three key areas I would like to see focused on, both in the near future and longer term.

1. Let’s focus on helping businesses grow 

There’s no doubt that sections of the business community took a battering during the latest federal election campaign. It’s understandable that there was anger in the community towards big business, especially post the Royal Commission into the banking and finance sector. Unfortunately it felt like all businesses copped a backlash and there has been some anti-business sentiment in some of the campaign messaging.

While I’m certainly not trying to excuse any bad practices in some sectors, I certainly believe that a strong economic environment that supports growth in business is absolutely critical to keeping employment opportunities open to all. My first hope is that the Coalition government in Canberra continues to deliver policies that foster economic growth and support businesses of all sizes. There’s no denying that to keep employment opportunities open, this has to be a priority.

Off the back of that, we would certainly like to see a continuation of the focus on both metropolitan and regional business growth. We need the right incentives, especially in regional Australia, to keep giving businesses an incentive to hire as many local workers as possible.

2. Work harder on the skills shortage 

For many years now I’ve written about the looming skills shortage in our country. In many industries and sectors, this is still a major challenge. 

The Coalition announced policies during the election specifically focused on apprenticeships, but it will be good to see the finer details over the coming months. In reality, it doesn’t go far enough: we need to do more to avoid what could be a major skills shortage in the years ahead. VET is a core part of the solution and we need to see greater recognition of this in longer-term policy from all levels of government. The first step in this is to look for adequate funding for VET at all levels, both public and private, to help encourage as many Australians as possible to look at careers in the areas where we have a shortage, such as aged care and hospitality.

3. Look to arrest the slide in apprenticeship commencements and completions 

There’s no doubt that we’ve seen a worrying trend in recent years in both the number of commencements and completions in apprenticeships. For so many of the sectors facing a skills shortage, apprenticeships and traineeships play such a vital role in bringing in new skilled labour. 

For starters, the increased funding for the regional incentive for employers to take on apprentices is welcome news, however it’s really only a start. I believe it should be looked at in a wider context, with more places available. The reality is that we need more than just a limited incentive model. These incentives play a huge role in helping businesses, especially small business, to take on an apprentice. In my view it’s certainly a small price to pay for heading off a looming skills shortage and the knock on economic impacts.

We look forward to working with government at both a state and federal level over the coming years to help grow VET, making it available to more Australians, and helping our employers to access the skills needed to foster long term growth. 

VERTO program to grow mental health support in remote NSW communities

VERTO program to grow mental health support in remote NSW communities

A number of people from regional and remote NSW attended Bathurst's VERTO employment and training centre throughout the week to build their knowledge and skills on suicide prevention.

For the last eight months, 11 participants from across NSW have been participating in a course providing training that will equip them for roles in the field of mental health support work.

The course is a joint program between VERTO and Western Plains Regional Development Centre, and is designed to provide more accessible mental health support services in regional and remote communities.

"Mental health is a serious issue in isolated communities and is often overlooked by members of society," VERTO chief executive officer Ron Maxwell said.

"The suicide rate in regional NSW is around 50 per cent higher than in metropolitan areas, which stresses the need to address the issue in more remote communities."

Each participant has received a scholarship to aid in their training and on completion of the course, they will receive a Certificate IV in Community Services.

The scholarships were awarded on the basis of locations experiencing a greater prevalence of mental health-related issues.

Grenfell's Chad White entered the course to gain necessary knowledge to support the more vulnerable members of his community.

"It's important for small communities to have someone there to encourage people that they're never alone," Mr White said.

"For me, the issue of suicide hits very close to home, and I hope to use all the techniques I have learned to assist others in managing their mental health."

The course has incorporated participants from a variety of socioeconomic groups, including farmers, miners, youth and Indigenous Australians.

Funding for the course was provided by the Western NSW Primary Health Network [WNSWPHN] through the federal government's National Suicide Prevention Trial.

"This program is investing in people from smaller communities to become leaders in mental health support and address workforce shortages in remote areas," WNSWPHN program coordinator Sue Hackney said.

 

As published in the Western Advocate, May 17 2019 - 5:00AM

Are career advisors still relevant in today's changing world?

Are career advisors still relevant in today's changing world?

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

In a world where young people are likely to experience an average of seventeen jobs and five careers, it has been argued that the humble career advisor is no longer a necessary part of our schooling system. For me, I would say it's the opposite – career advisors have never been more valuable to ensure individuals, and indeed, whole generations can compete in a global job market. The key lies in changing the model to realise its full potential. 

The existing model is designed to help senior high school students understand their career options; taking into account their abilities and interests to put them on a path to success, and hopefully, personal fulfillment. The model is certainly intended to be unbiased and to work with each student as an individual, but somewhere along the way, many career advisors started viewing university as almost a blanket option for all students. 

Whether this occurred because school rankings began measuring university entrance as an indicator, because parents began to view university as the best option for their children, or because society, in general, began to believe that everyone should get a degree, is open to speculation. But the reality is that it has the potential to put Australia behind when it comes to the skills required for the future. 

With a level of uncertainty about the future, one thing is clear – learning will need to be continuous to keep up with the pace of change. It's no longer realistic for young people to think they will study and then have the same career until retirement. Our career advisors are well placed to become enablers of this new reality, with a few changes to the approach. 

Career management is key 

Recent research by the World Economic Forum indicates that, alongside technological skills, employers will continue to require people with higher cognitive, (critical thinking, complex information processing and creativity) social and emotional skills (empathy, emotional intelligence, resilience and agility).  

These two skill groups are not typically included in Australian school curricula, which focuses more on STEM and literacy, so there is a great opportunity for career guidance programs to step into this void; essentially building skill sets that will carry students through multiple careers. 

A focus on these career management skills would add significant value to our school leavers and their future employers, regardless of their career/s of choice. The social and emotional or ‘soft' skills will also enable them to better navigate uncertainty and rapid change, two things they are likely to encounter in our current and future job market.

It's about the right choice for each student 

In a recent study of Australian students, around one third indicated that Vocational Education and Training (VET) had not been discussed as an option. This is concerning to me, and should be to us all, for a number of reasons.  

Firstly, the career advice given to our school leavers should be based on the best option for their interests and abilities, and if VET options aren't being discussed with most students, it's likely this isn’t happening. 

Secondly, with our current and anticipated skills shortages across key industry sectors, such as aged care and hospitality, alongside many of our traditional trades, failing to discuss VET career options in this sector is only going to exacerbate these shortages. 

Thirdly, 9 out of 10 jobs of the future are tipped to require a VET certification, making VET a great choice for current school leavers.

And lastly, we already have an overabundance of graduates across many of our university professions, so encouraging more students into these overcrowded spaces is only going to have an increasingly adverse effect on our job market.  

VET has long been viewed as the poor cousin, despite having higher average graduate salaries than university, and a wide range of job opportunities. There is no better place to start changing community attitudes than in our schools, and career advisors are at the coalface.  

Discussions need to start earlier 

Many career guidance programs commence working with students in their senior high school years, around age 16, but, in my opinion, earlier is far better. 

On a recent trip to Germany, I saw the positive outcomes of a model that encourages students to start thinking about their careers earlier in their high school education and make subject choices that put them on a pathway to success. 

It can be hard when parent, school, and community attitudes tend to be heavily weighted towards university options, but changing the way we think about careers is key. Career management and a level playing field for all higher education options and career choices are critical to ensuring our kids have access to the skills to navigate a changing world.

If our school system is willing to make changes to the model, our career advisors have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of shaping the next generation and keeping our job market strong into the future. 

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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