Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
For the people of Heyfield, a small community in south-east Victoria, further education (TAFE) opportunities are only available in towns some 77 km away. To support employability outcomes, particularly for local residents who live with a disability, the Heyfield Community Resource Centre decided to run two pre-accredited courses catered to the needs of the participants.
The first, a hospitality course, focused on teaching basic food hygiene as well as employability and computer skills. Students were also given the opportunity to meet with a career advisor from Federation Training who spoke about different entry pathways to accredited study.
The course finished with the students planning their own graduation event. This included creating invitations, developing a menu, catering the day and hosting the event. Friends and family were invited to the graduation so the students could showcase their achievements. Students also released their recipe book which they had developed throughout the training.
The second course was horticulture-focused. Students visited Growmaster Nursery in Traralgon and spoke to staff about the skills and qualifications required to work in a retail nursery situation. They also learned about various aspects of horticulture including how to take cuttings, dividing plants, seed sowing, pest, disease and weed control, and garden design. The students were also taught about OH&S and employability skills. The highlight of the course was when students created their own ‘plant tag’. This required students to create their own plant and decide where it could grow, how tall it would get and what it needs to thrive. On their final day students visited the Wellington Shire Council’s Parks Depot and were given a tour of the facility. They learnt about the shire’s lawn maintenance program, toured the tree nursery and learn about what skills the council look for in their staff.
The program was a huge success. Six months after the completion of the course, three of the hospitality course participants are working part time at the Foster Place Café and one volunteered during the football season at the canteen. Another student from the horticulture course is now working with the shire council under a traineeship basis.