Registered Training Organisations are concerned with skills development,
including preparation for the workplace. RTOs have a role to play in ensuring
students have the best possible employment outcomes after their course.
This is particularly important in the case of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds,
who lack networks and reliable sources of information about training and employment.
This can be achieved through the following:
• Meaningful work placements
• The provision of student support services
• Connection with employers and industry
If not accompanied by practical experience and connection with employment pathways,
the sole provision of tuition to newly-arrived migrants is meaningless in the vocational education sector.
It creates a ‘glut’ of disadvantaged learners, all holding similar qualifications with no practical
experience to support it, and with the unfair expectation that they will build their own bridges
between training and work.
An extended and comprehensive industry (or work) placement is key to good employment outcomes.
A work placement achieves several objectives:
- It gives the student a realistic experience of the work
- It exposes the student to Australian workplace culture within a framework (their training course) where they can discuss cultural differences and get guidance and advice from a trusted source (their teacher) on navigating the new culture
- It gives the employer the opportunity to observe students, provide feedback to the student and the RTO
- It gives student and employer a chance to decide whether they are a good match
- It adds credibility to the student’s resume, as substantial work placements are preferred by employers and recruitment agencies.
The longer and more varied the work placement, the more the above objectives are likely to be met.
Quality education is about the provision of tailored support to maximise the chance of students acquiring skills and knowledge through their course, which then leads to an ability to find and retain employment. In order to do this, RTOs need to take into account issues impacting their students and provide support or referral to appropriate internal or external services. Access to internal services such as Students Services, Recreation and Housing Officers, or Counsellors should be an integral part of the education and training experience of disadvantaged groups such as asylum seekers and refugees.
RTOs and community agencies can work together to support students, for instance with:
- Community agencies contacting RTOs to obtain information about courses on behalf of a client.
- Community agencies offering training to RTOs to increase their awareness of the needs of asylum seekers and refugees.
- The provision to RTOs of a clear point of contact to discuss student welfare if an issue arises.
RTOs have a responsibility to provide accurate and up-to-date information about employment pathways and outcomes, and to ensure that their students are prepared for the workplace and the challenges of the labour market.
To this end, RTOs must have relationships with employers, in order to keep abreast of industry requirements and prepare their students accordingly. In the Aged Care sector for instance, this may take the form of employers letting RTOs and students know what industry experience they see as valuable, and how long they expect an effective work placement to be.
It is also good practice for RTOs to organise meetings between their students and employers or recruitment agencies and provide support to students to apply for jobs, through assistance with resumes and recommendations for job interviews.