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Innovative project promotes student growth

By Fiona West | October 13, 2023

An innovative project at Navitas Skilled Futures providing work, study and related social experiences has delivered a range of positive outcomes for all participants.

The Grow, Move & Make Youth Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) Innovative Project*, which ran for 12 weeks from July to October at Fairfield College, combined classroom activities with off-site visits, workshops and learning opportunities at a range of community and volunteer organisations, commercial workplaces and government services, particularly related to horticulture, transport and construction.

Not only did it lead to current and future job opportunities and help many clients plan future employment pathways, but it also increased their confidence using public transport and travelling to different parts of Sydney, and using their English to meet and communicate with people from varied backgrounds and circumstances.

NSF Project Lead Michael Hill said all enrolled clients passed their courses for their White Card and Blue Card, and also received a Statement of Attainment in Nursery Fundamentals.

He said NSF was grateful to collaborate with organisations offering a suite of opportunities, including the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council, Botanic Gardens of Sydney, Fairfield City Council, Padstow TAFE, South West Community Transport, Community First Steps, Bunnings, Academy Green Learning, DLI Training, Western Sydney International Airport Experience Centre, and STARTTS. NSF also hosted sessions at Fairfield College, including a Career Networking Day with Whitebox Enterprises, Settlement Services International (SSI), CommUnity Construction and Volunteer Tutor Scheme tutors who provided a mentoring role with resume assistance and job applications.

“The clients were exposed to a lot of different people, workplaces, study options, volunteering opportunities and environments,” Michael said.

“The central purpose of this AMEP Innovative Project was to broaden their understanding and experiences of what it is like to participate in work, study and community in Australia, through the lens of these three specific industries. The clients all gained basic entry-level skill sets, so that they could potentially apply for work or study in those industries or work towards that,” Michael said.

“As a result there is one client who has now decided she wants to do cabinet-making – she was previously a carer; there’s someone else who wants to do panel-beating; and there’s another client who wants to be a plumber.

“Because of their English level, most of them are not quite ready yet, but this course has given them a future focus, a starting position and some knowledge on how to get there.”

As a result of the innovative project, three young women on humanitarian visas successfully applied for a paid training program at social enterprise boutique store The Social Outfit. They have now started a three-month retail and customer service program that includes paid work at its Newtown fashion store, online training and weekly mentoring.

“I think because the clients were in the right mindset and had learned the skills for job interviews and resumes, they were open to applying for it,” Michael said. “They all went along independently to Newtown, got themselves there, went through the interview process and were successful in gaining positions.

“This project has really helped clients to move outside their comfort zones, both physically and socially, and it just opens them up to opportunities that they might not have otherwise had the confidence to consider.”

Michael said feedback from the clients was overwhelmingly positive:

  • “This course has helped me a lot in regard to being more confident when being approached by people, or when I need help from others.”
  • “It gave us the confidence to talk to all people around us, explore many places around Sydney, life experiences.”
  • “This course has helped me gain confidence, especially using public transport and meeting new people.”
  • “Teacher Camilla is the most helpful person I have ever met; she has helped me a lot throughout this course, and I would also like to thank everyone that was part of this course. This course has improved my English skills, as well as my confidence.”
  • “It’s good because I learnt more about safety and workplace rules. I learnt some new skills, like how to use basic machinery. I feel good.”
  • “I feel more confident because my English is better. I learnt about study at TAFE.”
  • “Everything was good, it especially helped me what I study in the future. It helped me make a choice of an apprenticeship over university.”

Michael said all 15 clients received a pair of safety boots, gloves and safety glasses, which they needed for possible future work and the course, which included a lot of hands-on learning and training, including a planter box-making workshop at DLI Training, where students did their White Card course. The planter boxes are now part of a balcony garden at Fairfield College, which the students created with plants and gardening supplies.

“This project is the first of its kind, and really offered a broad range of experiences and opportunities for the students,” Michael said. “I’m confident they will really see the benefits over the long term.”

*The Grow, Move & Make Youth AMEP Innovative Project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs

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