Ecosystems of growth: How SuniTAFE's collaborative approach to education has rewarded the community

The fortunes of a rural community rely a great deal on its industries. Success across various sectors of the economy delivers sustainable, positive impacts for the whole region.

Successful businesses create opportunities for other businesses, industries and services to join in and the benefits of this filters throughout the community. This creates a vibrant local economy and opens up job prospects.
‘Key’ to ensuring the wellbeing of any industry is having access to a trained and capable workforce.

SuniTAFE’s relationships with industry, government and other education providers are critical. They ensure our training delivers relevant skills, accessible pathways and the most current knowledge available to improve productivity and enable progress.

These networks are the ecosystems of growth that benefit the whole community.

A History of Educational Pathways

From its beginnings 40 years ago, SuniTAFE’s approach to education was always very progressive. Even in those early years, SuniTAFE recognised that establishing partnerships with other education providers was essential to enable pathways into further study, where students could achieve their educational and career goals.

Our established partnerships with other universities and learning institutions are still important to us. They equip our students with the capacity to chart their own course, while still achieving the qualifications they need to find a job, pursue a career, make a change, take their career to the next level and contribute to the success of the places they work for.

Leaning on the Advice of Industry

We are wide open to learning about the current and future needs of industry. Industry Advisory Panels provide us with important understandings across sectors that are crucial to the regional economy, so too do our regular industry events, forums and on-site training. Through these mutually beneficial partnerships with local businesses, SuniTAFE is able to deliver training that is relevant and achieves real outcomes for the region, employers and graduates.

Enabling Business to Prosper

Through SuniTAFE’s partnerships with business, we are able to provide flexible options that support productivity across the entire workforce.

Select Harvests is Australia’s largest producer and processor of nut products and are a major employer in the region. They have collaborated with SuniTAFE on training and workforce development since 2010. Aside from participating in a large number of short courses, Select Harvest staff can undertake training in 9 professional development courses that range from Certificate II in Rural Operations through to a Diploma of Leadership & Management, with 3 of these courses specifically designed for Select Harvest employees. The wide scope of training on offer supports professional development in all levels of their workforce.

Relationships like these benefit students, businesses and regional communities in a number of ways –future proofing industries through productivity and innovation; creating jobs; supporting regional growth; and providing support for businesses to expand in a sustainable manner.

Responding to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

SuniTAFE’s long-established partnership with the highly respected Christie Centre is a proud example of building social inclusion and training to meet industry demand. As a result of the collaboration, a number of successful training programs have been devised that support and empower people with disabilities. The programs create local employment pathways for people with disabilities, instilling a sense of purpose and recognising the meaningful contribution they make to the entire community.

The introduction of the NDIS has led to the arrival of new disability service providers to the region, and a spike in employment demand. The SuniTAFE/Christie Centre collaboration saw this coming and, in a timely response, developed two NDIS short courses and a Certificate IV in Disability. The programs provide skills for disability workers and are instrumental in fostering a culture of professionalism where no mandatory required qualification previously existed.

Indigenous Culture and Heritage

The Dulka Yuppata Training Centre at our Mildura campus and The Telkaya Centre at our Swan Hill campus, provide support and assistance for Koorie learners.

Community engagement, training and education, and wellbeing programs enable inclusion, celebrate and raise awareness of the region’s distinctive Indigenous cultural heritage.

SMART Farming for the Future of Horticulture

In consultation with industry, international research, universities, and technology developers, SuniTAFE has developed a digital farming model. SuniTAFE’s SMART Farm explores more efficient and sustainable practices in farming through digital technology. Innovations in soil monitoring, irrigation, fertiliser and pesticides management, and automation have been utilised at SuniTAFE’s SMART Farm, and displayed to businesses and farmers. SMART Farm graduates will be ready-trained to operate the latest in digital farm technology, in dynamic new horticulture careers.

Leading multinational food and agri-business company, OLAM, worked in collaboration with SuniTAFE to trial  a series of Virtual Reality (VR) safety training simulations. This revolution in horticulture training will improve safety and efficiencies in production. There have also been exciting innovations in new, high-density dwarf almond and olive crop varieties - researched and developed in partnership with Agromillora Nursey-  which increase yield and minimise land usage.

A Workforce Prepared for Future Growth

The 2017 Regional Skills Demand Profile predicts significant growth in Horticulture, Transport and Logistics, and Health Services in the Mallee region over the coming decade. SuniTAFE’s partnerships with each of these industries aims to meet their workforce demands and support future growth.

Growth in the horticulture sector will be reliant on the capability of transport and logistics in the region. The Loddon Mallee region is a significant transport hub. To meet future transport demands, a Certificate III in Transport and Logistics will train all new drivers at one of the region’s largest Freight Logistics companies. In collaboration with industry, a 6-week introductory course was developed to encourage school leavers to consider transport careers.
Health services are collectively the largest employer in the region. A Diploma of Nursing, with a pathway to La Trobe University’s Bachelor of Nursing, was recently added to a long list of health and allied services course offerings at SuniTAFE. Early Childhood, Aged Care, Disability, Community Services, and Mental Health are among other courses that will provide trained health workers in caring for the wellbeing of the Sunraysia community.

Apprenticeship Outcomes

Apprentices are critical job-ready resources for any region and SuniTAFE’s apprentice module completion rate (at 95%) is significantly above average. Importantly, our trainees are confident their education will translate into employment, with 89% of SuniTAFE graduates finding work or enrolling in further study.