TAFE NSW's partnership with the Aboriginal Employment Strategy is showing big results after their IASPIRE program nearly doubled the number of entrants participating in the educational classes.
The program was originally created to provide a joint solution to the problems of high demand for civil construction workers across the Orana region and the high rate of unemployment in the Aboriginal communities in the area.
The program functions by providing unemployed, Aboriginal job seekers with a training course that allows them to learn and develop skills sought after by employers in the construction industry.
Last semester, the program attracted 19 entrants, 11 of which ended up gainfully employed after completing the course.
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During the current semester, 30 students are currently working towards a Statement of Attainment in Civil Construction, with a further course in the next semester offering Statement of Attainment in Earthmoving Plant Operations III which is currently seeking enrolments through TAFE NSW's website.
TAFE NSW Earthworks teacher Martin Havercroft says the program is very rewarding, both for him as an educator, and for the students.
"I've been doing it a number of years and I always find it rewarding," Mr Havercroft said.
"We're getting people who either aren't skilled or have limited skills in civil construction and it's really pleasing that when they leave they can go out there and achieve things; they can level a paddock with loaders, they can develop pads with the machines for house construction, for example."
According to Mr Havercroft, the course provides applicants with baseline skills that will give them a good foundation for a job application.
"What we teach is eighty percent about safety, because obviously in a two week period, we can't teach them one hundred percent of the skills on the machinery, we give them the knowledge and basic skills to learn more," Mr Havercroft said.
In the most recent course, students learnt how to operate a loader, excavator, dozer and skidsteer safely.
"We have other combinations we use depending on where we are and what the industry wants in any particular area."
"What they achieve is a statement of attainment in whatever machinery they've been using, so in this current group, they'll have four statements at the end."
"With those skills, they're allowed to go on and do supervised work in the workforce."
While the stated goal of the course is to provide workers to construction companies operating with the NSW economy, the certificates the students receive are valid anywhere in Australia.
"There's a lot of construction work happening in South Australia and Tasmania right now, as well as in NSW, of course."