Throughout the pandemic, COVID-19 has displaced many people. Among the hardest hit were women, with many taking on additional caring responsibilities as well as being heavily impacted by redundancies in sectors such as retail and the visitor economy. In response, Victoria University (VU) Polytechnic, in collaboration with industry and community partners, developed the free 'Skills and Careers: Your Way' program.
Designed to provide tailored support for marginalised groups in Melbourne’s west, the program prepares participants for working and training opportunities by helping them build job recruitment knowledge, identify their strengths, build confidence and network with like-minded women.
Pilot programs successful
The pilot program was held for participants in March 2021 at VU’s Sunshine campus and paved the way for VU in the Community to support the program through its strong relationships with Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the west. Building on this success, VU in the Community, in collaboration with VU Polytechnic, partnered with Hume City Council to deliver an online variation of the program to an enthusiastic group of women from the Hume area in August 2021.
At the end of the six-week program, participants reported feeling more confident and knowledgeable about developing their career opportunities, and motivated to take the next steps in their career journeys.
According to one participant, “the program is very helpful to us especially [as] it was designed for women attendees. It also [gave] us the chance to know that there is an organisation that [can] help us through with our career choices. The partnership of Hume and Victoria University is really good and I hope for more programs like this in Hume.”
Hume City Council CEO Sheena Frost opened the program with an inspiring keynote speech, and has since highlighted the importance of supporting women in Hume. “I was delighted to support the Skills and Careers: Your Way program and share my own learnings and experiences. It’s important for women to support each other and be each other’s best cheerleader – success breeds success, and that’s why programs like this, to create like-minded networks and learning opportunities, are so valuable,” she said.
Partnerships offer mutual opportunities
General Manager of Industry and Growth at VU Polytechnic and program creator Felicity Trembath is excited by the opportunities partnering with local councils and industry brings. “VU, through its strong relationships with our LGAs in the west, is well positioned to support the recovery and resilience of those most impacted by the pandemic. The collaboration with Hume City Council has been exceptional, allowing for a program tailored to the needs of the local area. Providing a safe and accessible space for program participants has been a privilege that VU is proud to support.”
By creating pathways, access to training opportunities and employment for communities in the western suburbs, Skills and Careers: Your Way is helping build community resilience by allowing members of marginalised communities to better understand their unique strengths and skills to help them get back into the workforce or change their careers.
VU is looking forward to continuing the program in 2022, with discussions around diversification of the program to support additional cohorts such as disengaged youth and Aboriginal communities already underway. Investigations into expanded delivery through Brimbank, Wyndham and Hume are currently being undertaken, with the aim to potentially deliver in the first half of 2022.