INDIGENOUS SKILLS PROGRAM
launches Sodexo careers
The inaugural group of Indigenous jobseekers from Perth’s first hospitality Vocational Education and Training Centre, based on the GenerationOne employment model, has begun training for careers in the West Australian resource sector.
A GROUP OF Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees is on course to complete a nationally accredited Certificate II in Hospitality and move into permanent Sodexo employment through a new workreadiness program. Delivered by Sodexo’s remote site operations in partnership with Indigenous advocacy body GenerationOne, skills provider Polytechnic West and employment services group AtWork Australia, the program is part of the Vocational Education and Training Centre (VTEC) project established by the Australian Government. Participant James Mead saw the promise of gaining new skills and employment upon completion of training as too good an opportunity to miss. “Sodexo has a wide range of job opportunities on offer and the program prepares me for employment through jobspecific training, as well as communication and team-working skills,” Mead says. Nationally, $45 million has been committed for the establishment of VTECs to equip 5,000 Indigenous Australians with job-specific skills and employment by July 2015. Perth’s first VTEC will provide guaranteed jobs for up to 200 Indigenous people and Sodexo has promised employment for 10 per cent of this commitment. Sodexo Remote Site chief operating officer Keith Weston says getting involved was a ‘no brainer’ for Sodexo. “We’ve been on a journey with our Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plans for a number of years now and are very committed to a strategic approach around Indigenous engagement,” Weston says. “Being connected locally is also an important part of Sodexo’s business. We employ 428,000 people across 80
countries and, interestingly, 97 per cent of our employees are hired locally.” In selecting candidates for the program, Sodexo canvassed Aboriginal communities and employment centres across Perth. Weston was encouraged to find that the prospect of a real job at completion of the course was an extremely powerful motivator for Indigenous trainees. “Some participants have been out of work for a period of time and are very keen to break the cycle of welfare by upskilling and moving on to gainful employment. That for me is the most powerful part of the VTEC program,” he says. “You don’t have to dig any deeper for validation of how promising the participants see this program as opposed to others which didn’t culminate in real employment outcomes.” Beyond just teaching participants the range of hospitality and customer service skills needed to work for Sodexo, the program also focuses on enhancing life skills
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that will support sustainable employment. “The VTEC trainees started with an allencompassing pre-employment training program,” Weston says. “This includes understanding employer expectations, managing money, achieving work-life balance and adjusting to the FIFO life”. “Very early on we arranged a site visit to Boddington, south of Perth, for the trainees to get a sense of a real remote environment. We wanted to prepare them as much as possible for the realities of what it would be like to work at a remote site.” Now that he’s had a taste for the resources hospitality sector, Mead is optimistic about where his training could take him. “The training and employment opportunities with Sodexo are helping to get my foot in the door. Having knowledge and experience under my belt will allow even more work opportunities to open,” he says. RP
James Mead with Sodexo employee Alexis Schauer at Polytechnic West’s Bentley campus in Perth