SuniTAFE Improving Work Placement for Work Education Students

22 Aug 2023

Students who undertake SuniTAFE’s Certificate I in Work Education (22566VIC) course will now be able to participate in a new and improved work placement program.

Certificate I in Work Education is for students with learning difficulties, disabilities, and additional learning needs. The course aims to support them to explore work options and access pathways to further education. Successful completion of work placement is a major part of the course.

This year, Work Education teacher Renee Scholz has engaged with local businesses and services to launch the Integrated Practical Placement Model (IPP) at SuniTAFE.

The IPP model offers students with learning disabilities the chance to gain job specific skills to help them transition from education to the working world. The program aims to achieve employment outcomes for the students whilst giving them tailored support to meet their specific needs.

Students enrolled in the Certificate this year started their 17-week placement last month. Three students are placed in businesses across Mildura, while another three are all placed at Mildura Base Public Hospital (MBPH). Renee believes this was the perfect choice.

“The hospital is great for many reasons. Firstly, it is community-based. The hospital is also quite low on workers, so our students are being treated as regular staff members and are doing jobs that would be expected as an employee. They are not treated like a work placement student which helps them to better understand what work is like,” Renee said.

“There are also so many opportunities at a hospital, not just healthcare. The students can participate in administration, hospitality, gardening, and cleaning. This gives the students a wider range of vocational areas to look into.”

As Renee explains, the students will benefit greatly from this new program.

“The boost of confidence the students get from programs like this are massive. Even the confidence I saw in them after just the first day is huge,” she said.

“Doing something like this helps them to realise that they can actually do this. For some of our students, they are doing things they never thought they would try.”

Before attending their placement, the teachers also took their students through the process of applying for a job.
“We go through the whole process with the students. We work with them to create resumes, make cold calls, and write professional emails. We have also been able to get MBPH’s assistance in developing these pre-job skills, as the students have completed a simulated application process for the jobs they are doing, as well as sit a mock interview with their managers,” Renee said. 

“We focus on the small details too. If an organisation requires its employees to have a Working with Children Check (WWCC), then our students who are treated as employees must get a WWCC.”

“It is so important for our students to go out into workplaces and get that experience, but it is also beneficial to them to first understand how to get a job. Having this type of exposure in a safe and supported environment removes many of the anxieties that any person would have prior to starting a new job.”

It is hoped that this program, and its focus on practical tasks, will lead to better course outcomes for the students.

“Some of our students find it very hard to write what they can do or build sentences to explain a skill that they have,” she said.

“What’s great is that this program is evidence based. Rather than having to write, we can observe the students completing a task and they can demonstrate their course knowledge this way. Students can provide us with evidence of their learning and skills in a way that is often easier.”

“We understand that many people learn better and retain more information through completing practical tasks. This means that this model is better for their education and prospects for employment in the long-run.”

The IPP Model was first introduced to the Victorian TAFE sector by Holmesglen Institute of TAFE. With support from Languages and Health Support Education Delivery Manager Terry Alderton, and the rest of the Foundation Studies team, Renee spent time with some of their key educators in this space to implement the pilot program for SuniTAFE.

The program was offered to a class of six students this year. However, if this pilot proves successful, Renee and her team hope to expand this to more students and other courses within the Foundation Studies Department.
Click here to learn more about Foundation Studies at SuniTAFE.

Click here to learn more about the Pathway to Work Program.