When Raj Sharma was made redundant by manufacturer Avery Dennison after 12 years service as warehouse distribution team leader he didn’t know where to turn for help. Just four months later, he was running his own successful business.
Raj reflected: “I was distraught, but when Victoria University representatives of Skill Up and Skill Stores visited us and spoke to workers about re-training options, I felt encouraged.”
VU Skill Up consultant, Anna De Luca, recalled: “We gave all redundant workers the opportunity to be assessed if they wanted to gain recognition for the breadth of skills they had accrued during past service. They were also given individual advice to gain or upgrade their skills and qualifications.”
Skill Stores identifies skills workers already possess to enable these skills to be recognised for a nationally accredited qualification. Skill Up supports the retraining of workers who have been made redundant.
The training helps workers facing redundancy improve their employment prospects so they can rejoin the workforce as quickly as possible. It can be used to upgrade existing skills or develop new skills.
Raj joined the program and gained a truck driving licence with the assistance of Skill Up. Through Skill Stores, he received recognition of prior learning (RPL) for previous experience and other work-related courses he had completed. RPLs allowed him to earn a Diploma of Frontline Management without any additional study.
Raj enthused: “The diploma was a tremendous confidence booster. I was even offered a couple of jobs; however, I really wanted to start my own business.”
Armed with a business plan, his redundancy pay-out, skills gained previously as a commercial cook and Anna’s help, he opened Rajee’s Indian Restaurant in Sydney Road, Brunswick in early 2009, and has been trading successfully ever since.
VU’s Manager of General Education Programs, Jennifer Lees, said these initiatives offer a lifeline to those made redundant. “Some redundant workers focus so completely on getting another job; they do not think of retraining or gaining extra qualifications to enhance their employment opportunities. They need guidance and the Skill Up consultants provide this reassurance”
Raj’s advice to all workers employed or made redundant: “The workforce is continually changing; retraining is vital to being employable.”
“Not only did the VU programs give me back my confidence, they also enabled me to realise my dream. Most of my former colleagues at Avery Dennison have also found employment.”
Anna De Luca and Raj Sharma are available for interview.
Media contact: Jim Buckell, A/Senior Media Officer
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 4243; mobile: 0400 465 459; email: [email protected]
About Skill Up
Skill Up is the Victorian Government’s rapid response program to retrain workers who are retrenched as a result of a major industry downturn or workplace closure. Since 2003, the Government has committed $10.6 million to the Skill Up program. Training is coordinated through selected TAFE institutions and workers are reskilled in high-demand trades and professions that are likely to lead to employment.
To complement this program the Victorian Government initiated the Skill Stores program in 2007. This program is designed to assist workers to retrain or re-enter the workforce by making the vocational education and training system more accessible.
The opening of the Central Melbourne Skill Store in July 2008 completed the Government’s commitment to open 13 Skill Stores across regional and metropolitan Victoria. This was part of its four-year $23.46 million Skill Store initiative from the skills action plan Maintaining the Advantage.
Since starting operations in June 2007, Skill Stores have assisted more than 24,000 Victorians, with more than 60 per cent referred as clients for a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment, generating more than 6900 RPL recognition of skills and experiences for workers.