Trade Training Centre and Catholic Regional College, Sydenham
Michael Flaherty, CRC Sydenham,
and Rocco Siciliano, Trade Training Centre,
with The Hon. James Merlino
The Trade Training Centre at the Catholic Regional College (CRC) Sydenham provides onsite training in hospitality, retail baking, sign-writing and picture framing, giving VCAL students the opportunity to complete authentic training at school. The centre is also used by other schools in the region. The centre’s facilities include Quatrefoils Restaurant, SYD Signs, Frames@CRC, The Crate Theatre and CRC Bakery and Patisserie, all of which are student-run businesses open to the public.
The philosophy of the Trade Training Centre is to build student skills in real-life settings. VCAL students undertaking a Certificate II in Signage and Graphics gain experience by working in the workshop and business shopfront of SYD Signs. Similarly, students doing a Certificate II in Furnishing (Picture Framing) get to hone their skills at Frames@CRC. Those completing their Hospitality certification can work at Quatrefoils, a fine-dining restaurant that seats 100 people and is open to the public three evenings a week.
With many students at CRC being refugees or first-generation migrants, the school has adopted a true applied learning pedagogy. The school and the Trade Training Centre have involved industry in all aspects of planning for the VCAL and VET programs to encourage partnerships with business and provide students with post-school pathways.
The purpose of the enterprises within the Trade Training Centre is to serve the training and learning needs of the VCAL and VET students. The income from each business is reinvested into the centre, providing industry standard equipment and fee-free VET courses for VCAL students.
The partnership between the Trade Training Centre and CRC’s VCAL program has been highly productive and led to high levels of student engagement and achievement.
Cardinia Catchment Landcare Group and Alkira Secondary College
Laura Henderson, Alkira Secondary College,
and Glenn Brooks-MacMillan,
Cardinia Catchment Landcare Group,
with The Hon. James Merlino
The Cardinia Catchment Landcare Group (CCLG) collaborated with Alkira Secondary College’s Intermediate VCAL group and two local primary schools in an Indigenous Planting and Nesting Box Project.
Under the leadership of CCLG president Glenn Brooks-MacMillan, members liaised with VCAL staff to develop the project plan. The CCLG team made sure it understood the VCAL outcomes and provided relevant materials and advice to VCAL students and staff.
The CCLG held three workshops with the VCAL students to teach them about indigenous gardens and nesting box design. The students were taught about the significance of indigenous plants to land management, sustainability and wildlife. The CCLG gave the students materials, tips and ideas for garden design. The students learnt about occupational health and safety for gardening and were introduced to computer-aided design (CAD), so they could work on a bird’s-eye view of their site. They created plant lists, prepared risk registers, designed gardens and researched patterns for nesting boxes.
On planting days, CCLG members mentored students, showing them safe work procedures and planting tools and techniques, including how to install mesh guards around the plants. By the end of the project, the VCAL students had planted 400 indigenous plants in two primary schools. They had also assembled 16 nesting boxes to replace lost habitat for local fauna, such as brushtail possums and sugar gliders. This was made possible by the CCLG’s enthusiasm, hard work, collaboration and genuine interest in educating for a sustainable environment and its benefits for all.
When students were asked if they would recommend this collaboration to future VCAL groups, the response was a resounding ‘yes’ from all participants. The CCLG is a positive and valuable contributor, not only to the VCAL program but to the wider community.
WestVic Staffing Solutions, AME Systems and Ararat College
L – R Andrew Reynolds and Andrew Sherwell, Ararat College,
and Bronwyn Mills and Leanne Parker,
WestVic Staffing Solutions,
with The Hon. James Merlino
Over the past few years, Ararat College has developed a productive relationship with AME Systems, a local company that designs and makes electrical wiring harnesses and assemblies. The school and AME Systems were concerned that some school leavers were insufficiently prepared for their transition to the workplace. They brought a registered training organisation, WestVic Staffing Solutions, into their discussions and together the group devised the Multiindustry Trade Taster (MITT).
MITT is a 15-week program that allows students to be fully engaged in becoming ‘employment ready’. The program starts with a three-week preparation course, followed by 10 weeks of paid four-hour sessions at AME Systems. The students rotate through roles in different areas of the company, including business administration/finance, engineering/quality, production, purchasing/sales and warehouse/despatch.
AME Systems, WestVic and VCAL staff at Ararat College created a ‘sales pitch’ for the program and asked the students to follow a formal expression of interest and job application process. The school anticipated that about four students would apply but instead received 12 submissions.
Through MITT, the students learnt that manufacturing brings together many different disciplines and skills. They saw how diverse and broad these skills need to be in order for a business to succeed.
The school has found MITT to be an exceptionally beneficial program. Students who were disengaged and at risk of dropping out have now completed the MITT program and have been given the opportunity to enter full-time work or complete a School-based Apprenticeship. MITT has been so successful that the school is planning to expand it to other key local industries.
Victorian Miniature Railway, Harcourt Lions Club and Castlemaine Secondary College
L-R Steve Carroll, Castlemaine Secondary College,
Grant Victor-Gordon, Harcourt Lions Club,
and Andrew Mierisch, Victorian Miniature Railway,
with The Hon. James Merlino
The Harcourt Lions Club, in partnership with Castlemaine Secondary College, the Victorian Miniature Railway (VMR) and other businesses located in Harcourt, developed a Youth Engagement Program. The program offered VCAL and other students the opportunity to participate in hands-on work experience in the community.
Each Friday, Grant Victor-Gordon, president of the Harcourt Lions Club, visited the school and accompanied the students to the VMR site in Harcourt. The VMR is a hobbyist club and members come from all over Victoria to work on the railway on weekends.
Colin Mierisch and his son Andrew (VMR president) travelled from Melbourne each Thursday evening specifically to work with VCAL students on Fridays. For the introductory session at VMR, Colin spoke to the students about his lifetime involvement with miniature railway and the different skills and athways the hobby could lead to. The students were completely engaged for the two hours.
Volunteers from the Lions Club taught the students about occupational health and safety relating to the machinery at VMR. When the students had learnt how to use the machinery, they were given certificates of competency.
As part of the Youth Engagement Program, the students also participated in:
- weekly work placements at a local cafe to learn hospitality skills
- sessions with Koorie elders to learn about local history and culture
- an accredited first-aid course subsidised by the club.
The Lions Club coordinated media coverage of the program, which dramatically raised VCAL’s profile in the region. There were stories by Nine News, WIN News, Castlemaine Mail, Midland Express, AEU News magazine and Harcourt News.
When the opportunity arose to make a funding submission to a Victorian community grants initiative called Pick My Project, the students, club and VMR worked together closely. Their efforts were ewarded when they were granted $198,000 to build a miniature railway station at VMR.