24 May 2016

A world of knowledge – a sea of learning opportunities

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We are all different. We all have different ideas, goals and preferences. And we learn differently.

An effective learning method for some might be an obstacle for another. Instead of making students adapt to a certain school system, schools should encourage and adapt to the diversities and all that potential that is growing within those four walls.

Unfortunately adapting to students different needs is still an issue in Australia. Not surprisingly, and for several reasons that fall outside of what schools themselves can do, Indigenous students are some of the most disadvantaged students in Australia.

This affects Indigenous Australians in the long run and their participation rate in the workforce remains unacceptably low, despite several efforts by the federal government.

A key to employment is the ability to read and write, but Aboriginal communities also suffer from high levels of insufficient literacy and numeracy skills. According to Creative Spirits, 30% of Aboriginal adults lack basic literacy skills.

According to the Indigenous Economic Development Strategy; Indigenous Australians are over half as likely to finish Year 12 compared to non-Indigenous Australians. Only 37.9% of Indigenous teenagers aged 15-19 are enrolled in school compared to 51.7% non-Indigenous teenagers. And only one fifth of Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 compared to non-Indigenous Australians attend university.

Not having enough literacy skills obviously put Indigenous Australians at severe disadvantage and enables them from pursuing higher education and progress into the workforce.

There have been several initiatives by the federal government to help Indigenous Australians to gain the necessary skill to successfully enter the workforce. The Indigenous Advancement Strategy, launched in 2014, has a key initiative that constitutes of funding up to $45 million to deliver Vocational, Training & Employment Centres (VTECs), based on the employment model by GenerationOne.  The programme helps indigenous Australians enter the workforce and find sustainable jobs.

Through partnerships with employers, job seekers are guaranteed to go straight into employment after finishing the training. Organisers work closely with employers to make sure that by the time the students finish their training, the have received training to gain the skills required by the employer.

Students are supported with anything from gaining literacy and numeracy skills, work experience, pre-employment and job training. However, the support doesn’t end as the students enter the workforce, but continues to include mentorship and cultural awareness support to ensure employee retention.

Though VTCE operators work closely with employers to make sure their programmes meet their needs and values, they also collaborate with Indigenous communities and leaders, making sure the programmes are adapted to Indigenous students.

Australia’s initiative to support VTCEs programme is one step closer to making sure education is adapted to students’ needs, and gives Indigenous students a fair chance to enter the workforce.

Education does not come in just one shape or form; it can be round, square or straight, as long as it brings out the best of each student.

It’s about time for Australia to invest more in modern and flexible education and make Indigenous Australians part of our economic culture.

Come along to Akolade’s 2nd Annual Innovative Business Models for VET Forum and listen to industry experts explore ways which VET organisations can adapt their course offerings to enhance their student experience. 

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

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