Inclusive employment gives job seekers a SKiP in their step


RMIT’s ground-breaking Skills in Employment Program (SKiP) has achieved a major milestone, successfully placing over 500 job seekers in employment opportunities in the aged care and disability sectors.

A collaboration between RMIT’s College of Vocational Education (CoVE) and Workforce and Innovation Development Program (WIDI), SKiP is a pioneering initiative designed to address workforce shortages in aged care and disability while fostering inclusivity and diversity.

By providing paid training and mentorship, SKiP connects jobseekers from various backgrounds with employers, ultimately building a stronger social services community.

WIDI Director, David Clements, said the program has been successful in transforming the lives of job seekers and employers, leading to improved support for older Victorians and people living with disabilities.

“It’s not just about filling workforce gaps; it’s about building a strong social services community supported by a diverse, skilled, responsive, healthy, and innovative workforce,” Clements said.

The program has been instrumental in attracting and training new care workers, including individuals from diverse backgrounds such as Aboriginal Victorians, asylum seekers, and women aged 45 and over.

Diverse workforce for a diverse community

A heart-warming success story within SKiP is the journey of the mother-daughter duo, Geraldine Cole (45) and Audrey (24).

Audrey, who is clinically deaf and possesses a professional working level Auslan certification, is no stranger to the challenges faced by jobseekers with disabilities.

Thanks to SKiP, Audrey and her mother Geraldine have found their true calling with Assist Ability Australia, an innovative disability service provider dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives.

Clements said their success with clients and fellow participants exemplifies the program’s positive impact.

“For many candidates, undertaking study is a barrier because they have never studied before, or they lack the time needed for reasons such as caring responsibilities.

“The model removes these barriers by offering a supported pathway to employment and training.”

2 women stand in front of a blue van.Mother-daughter duo, Geraldine and Audrey Cole have both benefited from the SKiP program.

Mentorship and transformative growth

One key factor behind SKiP’s success is the inclusion of skilled mentors, separate from the employers.

“SKiP has specialist trained industry mentors who follow the employees throughout the program and provide ongoing specialised support throughout,” Clements said.

“This mentorship element has significantly enhanced training, job satisfaction, and retention rates.

“The open-minded and eager attitude of program applicants, combined with mentor support, has proved to be a winning formula.”

Recognised on the national stage

Recently, SKiP was recognised by Universities Australia’s Shaping Australia awards alongside RMIT’s Higher Apprenticeships and Traineeships (Social Services) Extension Project (HATSSEP).

An extension of SKiP, HATSSEP has upskilled a further 380 existing workers to meet the need for more qualified disability care workers, and stronger mid-level management capability.

5 women and 2 men stand next to each other.Dionne Sharp (TalentPath), Shelley Stewart (Annecto0, Minister Ben Carrol, Mary-Ann Bitsakar (Disability Worker), Lesley Bridge (WIDI), Professor Alec Cameron and Mish Eastman.

The two programs were nominated in the Future Builder’s category for their unique 70:20:10 approach which uses an innovative earn and learn model of teaching to encourage participation and prepare the workforce to hit the ground running.

Mish Eastman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Vocational Education, said that this model helps to better support learners.

“For many of these candidates, undertaking study can be a challenge, compounded by barriers such as being first in family to study, or they may have caring responsibilities or other life commitments,” she said.

/RMIT University News Release. View in full here.