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How a Learner-Centred Approach is Making a Difference to Job Seekers Across Sydney

How a Learner-Centred Approach is Making a Difference to Job Seekers Across Sydney

Photo: Stephen Bali, Labor MP for Blacktown, recently visited the newly reopened Blacktown campus and joined students in practical classes designed to get them job ready.

As a not-for-profit training provider, Macquarie Community College is at the forefront of delivering Smart and Skilled and JobTrainer/Skilling for Recovery programs to people living in Northern and Western Sydney. Demand is so high that it has recently reopened its Blacktown campus to cater for the increased needs of Western Sydney residents.

The funding, offered by the Australian and NSW governments, acknowledges the need to invest in additional training and retraining opportunities, especially now when the economy is getting back on its feet following COVID-19. Targeting young people and the unemployed, including migrants, funding is part of a suite of landmark programs aimed at getting people into life changing employment.

Learning from 70 Years of Experience

Decades of providing highly successful support-based vocational education gives Macquarie Community College educators insight into how to deliver programs like JobTrainer/Skilling for Recovery in a way that revolutionises outcomes for adults facing barriers to learning. The Macquarie Community College learner-centred approach diverges from the standard one-size-fits-all training model offered by other training organisations and features additional services tailored to the individual.

“Education is the pathway to empowerment,” says Macquarie Community College CEO Theresa Collignon. “We are in a unique position to help at this time because meeting the needs of people in our community is in the community college DNA. It’s what we do best.”

Focussing on Employability & Language Skills

In addition to subsidised vocational educational training, Macquarie Community College also teaches students crucial employability and language skills that guarantee success following formal training. Wraparound services include English language training and work skills under the NSW Government’s Smart and Skilled and JobTrainer/Skilling for Recovery programs.

“We’ve found that vocational courses are often not enough to put an individual on the pathway to employment if English is their second language,” says Ms Collignon. “Other barriers to training and employment also exist;for instance, training as an aged care worker is one thing, but having the necessary confidence and skills to write a resumé, apply for a job, or attend an interview can be overwhelming for some.”

Short workshops assist people with resume writing, interview skills and identifying which skills students already possess that may be transferrable and sit alongside formal qualifications on their resumé. Basic office and computer skills, essential for all modern workplaces, are taught alongside certificate or diploma vocational training qualifications. Courses for simple things that others might take for granted—like creating a LinkedIn profile—are all part of the package in the learner-centred approach.

Providing a Wraparound Service

“It’s the wraparound service centred on the individual—our vocational education, skills based teaching and English training—that gets people into work.Without the learning support we provide our students, many of whom come from non-English speaking or disadvantaged backgrounds, there would still be roadblocks stopping them from reaping the benefits that successful participation in education makes to the lives of individuals and their families,” says Ms Collignon.

The College offers a range of subsidised and fee-free courses in Business and Workskills, Aged Care, Disability Care and Child Care under Smart and Skilled and the JobTrainer/Skilling for Recovery programs to eligible students and has training centres across North West and Western Sydney. The recently reopened Blacktown campus caters for the increasing demand for services in the Western Sydney region.

The College Changed my Life

“The College changed my life. When I started at the College soon after migrating to Australia, I couldn’t speak much English and had no chance of getting a good job. Now I am working in a job I love, doing office administration in the State Government,” says Julie^, a former Macquarie Community College student who was thrilled to hear that the Blacktown campus was reopening.

Stephen Bali, Labor MP for Blacktown, recently visited the newly reopened Blacktown campus and joined students in practical classes designed to get them job ready. He notes: “Macquarie Community College has been providing training for over 70 years, and I am honoured to be able to welcome them back into the heart of Blacktown. Training is only part of the solution; the real benefit occurs when the individual is able to secure meaningful employment.”

The College team works collaboratively with like-minded organisations and government agencies at all levels to identify and meet community needs, particularly when it comes to work placement for its students.

“Collaboration and working together with others are key to supporting clients on their pathway to better futures—attaining skills for work and for life,” notes Ms Collignon.

^Name changed to protect privacy