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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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Why collaboration is key to the future of Australia’s higher education sector

Why collaboration is key to the future of Australia’s higher education sector

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

Collaboration: It’s a buzzword across many industries, as both physical barriers and competitive ones are broken down in a bid to grow and innovate. Our business education programs teach the importance of it, yet it’s an area where our tertiary education sector seems to be lagging.

This sector plays a key role in our economy, and in many ways, determines the future for all of us. It’s long been argued, by both industry and education experts, that a collaborative higher education sector might just be the key Australia needs to navigate a digital future.

Currently, our schools, vocational education and training (VET) providers and universities are siloed, operating on entirely different public funding models, and this can exacerbate competition and stifle collaboration and innovation.

Recently, the Business Council of Australia called for an overhaul of the sector, that ultimately boils down to ensuring that the core focus returns to the learner. Moving toward a shared funding model could see institutions actively seek out collaboration opportunities, from the sharing of facilities to course pathways that increase opportunities for both students and industry.

Inconsistent funding can influence choice

As the focus becomes more and more about increasing student numbers to increase funding, rather than attracting the right students to the right courses, the perfect storm is brewing for our higher education sector.

I’ve talked before about how VET qualifications have long been viewed as the poor cousin, with parents and schools driving students towards university degrees under the misconception that this leads to higher incomes and more opportunity. In fact, in many industries, the opposite is true.

As universities lower entrance requirements to attract more students, and hence more funding, the number of graduates far outstrips job opportunities in many degree-qualified professions. Meanwhile, many of our key industries and trades are facing skill shortages as apprentice numbers decline, while funding to the VET sector is being cut to critical levels.

In a 2015 report on the VET sector around the globe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that inconsistent funding was an issue for the Australian sector, and noted that consistent funding is key to ensuring student choices are not distorted by the availability of funds.

This issue is highlighted with nursing studies, where prospective students have a choice of degree and VET qualification pathways. The best pathway should be driven by the student’s career interests and aspirations; however, students completing the university qualification can access up to six times the funding of a VET student, enticing students into the wrong courses and leaving skill gaps across our healthcare sector.

In my opinion, introducing a single tertiary funding model to replace the various models currently at play would both encourage collaboration and level the playing field. Enabling institutions to see past the funding battle would allow the focus to shift back to the learner and ensure we are doing the best for our students, industries, and the economy.

It doesn’t have to be either/or

Building nested courses and clearer articulation pathways between school, VET qualifications and university degrees could also benefit individual students and our industries. Under the current system, school leavers are typically asked to make a choice between VET or university, but for some qualifications, a clear pathway between the two could be the answer.

Students could start with a VET qualification, which prepares them immediately for the workforce. Once qualified, students would have the option to continue on to a degree with some articulation credits for subjects completed. This way, there are both clear exit points and opportunities for further study. Imagine the benefits of our uni students already being qualified to work in certain areas of their chosen industry, earning money and building real-world experience while studying.   For industries like healthcare, which is facing significant skill shortages, this would be a massive win.

Physical resources could be shared too

At many of our large institutions, publicly-funded facilities – training spaces, technology etc. - are sitting empty while students and faculty are on semester breaks. Meanwhile, we have community-based training providers scrounging for affordable space and quality resources.  

A collaborative, shared funding model could see these resources allocated better across communities, giving community organisations access to these facilities when they aren’t in use by the institution. This would enrich community learning, while also maximising the return on investment for Australian tax payers.

It can be done

Taking collaboration from theory to practice is a challenge for every industry, and higher education is no exception. Integrating the different models into a single tertiary funding model is a key step in driving collaboration across the sector. It will take dedication from providers, who will need to shift from a win/loss mindset to a truly collaborative one, and considerable political foresight from our federal and state governments, but I believe it can be done.

Our schools, VET providers, and universities working together could be a win for us all, maximizing public investment in education and ensuring we maintain a strong, healthy economy into the future.

Wayne Pearce set to motivate Orange as part of the VERTO Inspire Series

Wayne Pearce set to motivate Orange as part of the VERTO Inspire Series

MAY 8, 2018

VERTO is partnering with the Orange Ex-Services Club to host nationally renowned speaker Wayne Pearce for the second event in VERTO’s Inspire Series. As a former international rugby league player and coach, Wayne is recognised as an energetic and compelling keynote speaker.

"Everyone deserves the opportunity to be the best they can be, but many people lack the self-belief, the motivation and/or an understanding of how to realise their true potential," said Wayne.

The VERTO Inspire Series is a newly formed initiative to deliver free inspirational experiences to help motivate and encourage those in the community to recognise their own value and reach their goals.

VERTO Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, said: “ Our Inspire Series is all about helping to motivate and educate our local community. We’re excited to provide access to nationally renowned speaker Wayne, so that the Central West community can benefit from his knowledge and expertise in helping others find their true potential.”

This event follows the first VERTO Inspire Series event which was hosted in partnership with the Bathurst Regional Council to present motivational speaker John Coutis. This event drew a crowd of over 250 attendees, including school students, VERTO clients, members of the public, and community leaders.

The next event will take place on June 8 2018 at the Orange Ex-Services Club between 10:00am and 11:30am. To register for the event, call 1300 4 VERTO or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

VERTO selected to help mature-age job seekers with new Career Transition Assistance program

VERTO selected to help mature-age job seekers with new Career Transition Assistance program

May 1, 2018

VERTO has been selected, as one of ten organisations nation-wide, to provide assistance and training to mature-age job seekers through the Career Transition Assistance (CTA) program. The new initiative aims to build the confidence and competitiveness of mature-age job seekers in their local markets.

Commenting on the selection, VERTO Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, said “We are excited to provide this innovative service to the Central West. CTA will allow us to bring specialised services to mature-age job seekers, helping individuals find employment or prepare for a new career path.”

The program will include Tailored Career Assistance, which helps people prepare job applications based on their skills and experience. It will also offer Functional Digital Literacy to help mature-age job seekers develop ICT skills such as utilising smartphones, tablets, social media and desktop computers.

“With technology moving at such a quick pace it’s important to provide programs to support mature-age job seekers to build new skills and confidence with these platforms,” Mr Maxwell commented.

This announcement follows VERTO’s recent success in winning the ParentsNext contract in the Central West. ParentsNext helps parents with young children to plan and prepare for their future employment or study.

“Our selection to provide both CTA and ParentsNext services is fantastic for the Central West. Our aim is to help job seekers develop skills and access employment and these programs are fundamental in helping achieve this,” concluded Mr Maxwell.

The CTA program will be effective from 2 July 2018.

Will job quotas assist with employment for people with a disability?

Will job quotas assist with employment for people with a disability?

By Ron Maxwell - CEO

In an age when we’re seeing rapid changes to the way we work, it’s not uncommon to see different plans put forward to transition people into the working future. We’ve seen it recently in relation to the proposed Universal Basic Income that has been commented upon and discussed at length in the media, as we transition into a future dominated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics.

Other changes to the workforce are designed more to reflect the need to promote diversity and equal opportunity in employment. I read with interest recently, a proposal put forward to add further diversity targets, specifically in the Australian Public Service (APS), around employing people with a disability. It’s an area close to my heart, as helping people with a disability enter into employment is a core part of what we do at VERTO.

The article I read suggested putting a quota system in place to set targets on the APS hiring people with disability, similar to those put in place around gender and ethnicity.

Could a quota help drive employment?

Being able to work is something that we believe everyone in the community has a right to undertake; it makes a huge difference in the lives of many, being an active and contributing member of society. That’s no different for those with a disability and it’s something we should support and actively encourage.

When you look at it face value, there’s plenty of merit in something like this. There’s often an incorrect perception around disability in the workforce, particularly regarding productivity. That stigma has long been a barrier to entering the workforce for those with a disability.

What’s clear is that this perception is way off the mark. Employees with a disability are as productive as those without and can be incredibly valuable to an employer. Employers can easily remove many of the barriers to the workplace, especially those that are willing to invest in the right candidate that can bring real value to their businesses. We’ve seen some outstanding examples of this happening and it’s particularly pleasing to see the opportunities that now exist.

Applying quotas, especially in a market like the APS where a quota system is already in place, will certainly help increase opportunities for those with a disability. I personally think that it would be a good thing for the APS to lead the way in this area. No doubt many private organisations already have strong diversity programs in place, however, if something like this were to work effectively in the APS then it can help shine a positive light on what can be achieved.

Provide an equal chance

One thing I would point out here is that ‘disability’ is a very diverse term. A person’s disability may not necessarily be physical in nature or readily apparent when you first meet an individual. Any proposed program should be built in such a way that people with both physical and non-physical disabilities can all benefit from the opportunity to work.

We can always do more to provide the right opportunities

While quotas may be part of the solution, they certainly aren’t, on their own, a perfect solution. There are many programs that can help improve employment opportunities.

Providing the right training and skills to enter the workforce is crucial. This doesn’t just start with training, it needs to begin earlier than that. There’s certainly a case for looking at how we can add further support into the school system, so that those with a disability are given the right support early on in the education process.

While a quota system could work in the APS, there’s no doubt that it would be much more difficult to enforce in the private sector. In line with my earlier comments, there’s also an education piece to ensure that employers are encouraged to employ those with a disability, by highlighting the barriers that exist to employment. Most of these are easily removed and programs exist to help employers through that. But by making the conversation visible and encouraging employers to look at ways to provide more opportunities, the long-term outcomes for those with a disability would be much higher.

There are many outstanding organisations that are committed to helping those with a disability find employment. If we keep raising the issue and discussing it in the open, hopefully one day the need for a quota will no longer be necessary.

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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