CIT’s Mature Jobseeker Support project, delivered under the ACT Government’s Mature Workers Grants Program, seeks to enable mature workers – people aged 45 years or older and Australian Apprentices aged 25 years or older – to upskill or reskill.
CIT will provide high-quality case management services, and provide access to tailored training opportunities and engagement with potential employers. The program will also help address the needs of local businesses seeking to employ more people.
The below Q&A with CIT Executive Director Industry Relations & Strategic Engagement Paul Ryan provides insights on the program.
Q: When it comes to getting mature people back into the workforce, are we talking about reskilling and upskilling?
A: Absolutely. The new world of work means that people are going to have multiple careers throughout their life and qualifications that they took during their teens or twenties are not going to be relevant to the jobs they are going to want to do in the future. Definitely current and relevant qualifications is the best advantage you can have in the job market.
Q: Is it tricky to upskill when you are older?
A: Mature workers or in our case, mature students, have very high levels of employability skills due to their life experiences, so decision-making, resilience and collaboration are strong attributes employers are looking for. Certainly, currency of skills and technical skills is what CIT can offer for upskilling and reskilling people who are pursuing a new job opportunity, looking to change a career, or get a promotion.
Q: What do you do when a person approaches you for help?
A: We have recently been successful in winning a grant with the ACT Government around upskilling mature workers. The objective of the grant is to make sure people who are looking to upskill can navigate the complex environment around employment and education. It can be tricky and sometimes the opportunities can be overwhelming and people don’t know where to start.
The aim of our project is to make sure that anybody can come to CIT and we’ll help them throughout Student Services and Student Support areas to enable them to get the help they need.
We can help with course information, career choices and the enrolment process. Often those who have current skills, but don’t have qualifications, can go through a Skills Recognitionapproach. Undertaking Skills Recognition means we can recognise the skills they do have and put them on a pathway to a partial completion of a qualification.
This approach is also convenient for people who often lead complex lives, are working part-time, managing family and finances. Skills Recognition is a great way to commence your introduction into formal learning.
Q: What kind of skills can be recognised and turned into a qualification?
A: The Skills Recognition approach is a formal process where we map people’s current skills, life skills and work experience against the qualification at a unit level, so that we can work out if you are already competent at a particular unit then you don’t need to train in that unit. That’s not what vocational education is about, it’s about recognising competency and if you are already competent in a particular area, then you would be able to achieve recognition for that unit.
When you look at the whole qualification, there will be areas around digital literacy, problem solving and other skills that you need to upskill in and that’s how we can best help.
Q: Can we be sure that through this process mature students come out with skills that make them more employable?
A: Most definitely. CIT’s courses are designed with industry input so we are sure the skills we are teaching to students are the skills needed in the workplace. The ability to ensure our students can transition from education and training into the workforce is critical. Often industry plays a close role in the delivery of the programs. The ability for a student to engage in formal learning, and then to introduce them to the industry in which they are studying gives them a far better opportunity to then pathway into employment.
We have a high rate of making sure once people have accessed and participated in training they get a successful transition into the workplace, and having an up-to-date modern qualification mixed with life skills is really the mix that employers are looking for.
Q: Are employers being educated on the quality of the mature workers they are going to get?
A: I think for what we have seen with industry groups, employers are coming to the realisation that they need a mixed workforce and increasingly their client base is getting older and they need that mixed of skills, attributes and experience throughout their workforce.
Last year, more than 3,000 people defined as mature by the 45-age limit in this instance were studying at CIT and showing those statistics as they are moving into engaged employment reveals that employers are hiring people who have that mix of an up-to-date qualification and life skills.
I think employers are recognising that mature workers add a lot value to their businesses and recognise that employing them and having a mixed workforce is good for their business.
Q: Are there any stats that demonstrate people are getting into the workforce?
A: Our statistics from December last year showed that over 91% of our students were employed or in further study after they completed their course. For them it might be the first time in years if not decades that they have engaged in formal education.
Some of them come for our adult Education and Community programs so we have evening courses and then they progress into a qualification. Although gaining the qualification is critical ultimately, people engage in this process to upskill, reskill, get a better job, get a new job and that sense of confidence of being able to contribute to the economy, contribute to the community and have a real sense of purpose.