Each time you walk into a room for the first time the only essence of commonality is that your cohort is usually there under sufferance because they have to be there.
You normally have little say in the resources you’ve been allocated and have absolutely no idea of the abilities of those you are about to impart, with any luck, your knowledge on.
This situation is exacerbated even further when you take up a role with a new RTO and you have no idea who you are working with, standards required, management philosophies or the support you can expect.
So it was with more than a little trepidation that I entered the Training Room of Sureway Deniliquin, a town in the Riverina, which was slowly being strangled by economic inertia. My initial cohort was a mixed gender, mixed age group of long to medium term unemployed who looked at me as if I was just another in the long line of “do-gooders” who actually do nothing. Because of my teaching background,
I was able to engage with the group quite readily and was able to establish a group solidarity and identity quite quickly. Of the original twelve (12) participants I had, by the end of the day, worked out that I would only have about eight (8) attendees over the length of the program. My estimate was fairly accurate.
The first couple of days I spent, ostensibly, in getting the accredited training completed but in reality, I was ascertaining the employability skills of the group. Although the program only ran from Monday to Wednesday of the first week I travelled up to Deniliquin on Thursday and started to cold call on some of the employers in the town.
Basically, I wanted to know whether they would be willing to take on selected participants for work placement. Obviously, this personal approach worked pretty well.
With the help of the Sureway staff in one instance, I was able to place all of the seven (7), who were actually employable, in positions that were pretty close to where I had thought they would be best suited.
Where they were situated was as follows:
• Lady with a mild disability who loved farming was placed on a dairy farm (suggested by Sureway staff) as a milking hand.
• The young lady who wanted to go into nursing but was interested in childcare was placed in an Early Learning Centre.
• A mature lady who was interested in caring for people was placed in an Aged Care Facility.
• I sat with a recently divorced lady and completed her resume and took her through the procedure of an online application. She was leaving Deniliquin the next day for Melbourne so didn’t want to undertake the placement.
• A young man who had a restrictive illness (severe diabetes) with a penchant for computers was placed with the local council in their IT area.
• Another young man with similar interests was placed with Harvey Norman in the Computer and Music section.
• The final young man who expressed an interest in hospitality was placed with the local RSL Club where he was able to experience the bar the bistro and the restaurant.
They were thrilled, the employers were happy and given the circumstances I was ecstatic. So what was the outcome I hear you ask? I keep in touch with all the members of this particular the group so as of the last update the dairy hand is still employed and loving her position.
The young lady who went to the Early Learning Centre is now employed there on a Traineeship. The mature lady has picked up casual work at the Residential Facility and is enrolling in a Certificate III in Aged Care at the local TAFE next year.
The young man who went to Harvey Norman is still there and about to be offered a Traineeship. My RSL lad is still there as a permanent casual. I had a failure with my Council Placement as although there was a position where he was unsuccessful.
And what happened to the lady who moved to Melbourne?
Well in the last two weeks, she is now permanently employed in the position in which we applied online for and she couldn’t be happier!
The moral of this story is that if we, as Trainers and Support Staff, take that one step further and show a real interest in our cohort, if we are able to build their confidence and self-belief then they will take the next step – if we can show them the right door they will go through it.