VU Polytechnic’s inaugural ‘Skills and Careers: Your Way’ program recently kicked off at the new Sunshine Skills Hub. The free eight-week program is focused on women looking to get back into the workforce or change careers.
Women disproportionately affected by COVID-19
Created by VU Polytechnic’s Industry and Growth team in collaboration with the Skills and Jobs Centre, the program is designed to build skills awareness, networks, and a better understanding of career and training opportunities available.
Leading the program, General Manager, Industry and Growth Felicity Trembath said women have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis and the pilot program recognises and acknowledges this.
“The program was developed to help bridge the gap between women and access to skills training and employment opportunities. We’ve partnered with industry to engage women early-on in the VU Community.
“The program helps empower each woman who takes part to understand their unique strengths and the diverse range of career paths that are available to them,” Felicity said.
Positive and uplifting experience
Over the first week of the program, informal feedback from the participants was all positive. Feedback included:
“This has been the most positive and uplifting experience I have had since March last year.”
“I’ve realised that things I thought were a weakness, are actually a strength. I have leadership qualities!”
“I’m really looking forward to the rest of the sessions – thank you for creating a safe and supportive space for women to come to.”
Exposure to a wide range of career and training options
Over the program, participants are introduced to the wide range of career and training opportunities available. This includes trades, health services, hospitality, community services, business and more. They also have the chance to meet with mentors from partner organisations such as WomenCAN Australia.
“During the pandemic, women have been heavily impacted by industry closures in retail, hospitality and accommodation services. VU Polytechnic’s deep relationships with industry and organisations that champion access to education for vulnerable women, such as WomenCAN, mean we are well-placed to offer this type of support,” Felicity said.
As project sponsor, Acting PVC Louise Robinson, sees this connection to industry and community as critical to this program.
“I’m proud to sponsor this important initiative and the opportunity it represents. The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has left many women in vulnerable economic and social circumstances.
Going from strength to strength
“With approximately 80 per cent of tertiary dropouts in 2020 over the age of 25 being female, it’s critical that we support women and employers to understand the unique role they offer the economy, and to broaden their knowledge of the careers available to them," said Louise Robinson.
Week two of the program saw participants complete their Clifton Strengths short course online. They learned more about their top five unique strengths and how to use them to improve their employability. The online session proved to be a successful networking and bonding event as well – with many participants choosing to connect offline to the program.
It’s fair to say the Skills and Careers: Your Way program is already going from strength to strength, as are the current cohort of women taking part. Keep up the good and positive work everyone!