A new school-based traineeship program at South Western Sydney Institute of TAFE (TAFE SWSi) is delivering good results so far for three young Aboriginal women, kickstarting their careers by giving them real employment, training and study opportunities.
TAFE SWSi has partnered with the Elisa Dixon Program for the two-year traineeships as part of the students’ NSW Higher School Certificate. Students gain hands-on paid work experience, as well as a Certificate II in Business when they complete their studies.
Aboriginal Youth Programs Coordinator Romina Figuerola says the program equips the students, who all come from the South Western Sydney region, with the skills and experience needed for the workforce or for further study.
“TAFE SWSi is proud to be playing a close role in the professional development of young people from our community,” Mrs Figuerola says.
“This is the first time we’ve offered this and decided to host them in partnership with the TAFE SWSi Aboriginal Unit. The three girls are from different schools in South Western Sydney and were selected for the traineeship from our ‘Hands On’ program, which works with South Western Sydney schools in the development of study-to-employment pathways for Aboriginal teenagers,” she says.
“We’re both the employer and the Registered Training Organisation (RTO), in that we offer the Certificate II in Business and the three girls rotate through, and work in, four different sections in the Institute: Human Resources, Marketing and Promotions, Organisational Capability and the Business Development Unit.”
Through the paid work-experience rotations, the students are gaining hands-on experience in office skills, the development of marketing tools, customer service, business technologies and meetings.
“This helps them work towards a career while they are still studying,” Romina says. “It’s paid employment one day a week, training and they are still working towards their HSC. For a student to already have work experience on their résumé by the time they leave school is a big advantage.”
For school-based trainee and Campbelltown local, 16-year-old Shania Hellyer believes the experience is giving her a headstart in her career.
“The great thing about doing a school-based traineeship is that I’m gaining important workplace skills as part of my HSC,” Shania says.
“That means I’ll be a step ahead of other school leavers in two years’ time when I’m ready to take on further education or fulltime employment.”
Shania plans on entering the police force when she finishes Year 12.
Karinya McGuinness, 16, who is also from Campbelltown, urged other school students to take on a traineeship, highlighting that it was a good opportunity to ‘earn and learn’.
“I think more young people could benefit from school-based traineeships because it gives you a chance to learn important business skills and an opportunity to earn an income at the same time,” Karinya says.