In late 2020 Real Futures was approached by NORTEC, a for-purpose jobactive provider operating in 40 locations throughout South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales to design and deliver a program that would engage, support, and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander job seekers. The core aim of the program was to educate aspirants on what is involved in starting employment, how to cope with the expectations, barriers, and changes to family life once work starts.
The resulting Get Ready Program has been an outstanding success with twenty-one aspirants attending workshops and discovering for themselves that they were more job-ready than they realised. So far eight participants have already found work (at time of publication), despite this being a secondary objective of the program, and three have enrolled in a construction pathways course to get their First Aid, White Card and Certificate II in Construction. Five two-day workshops have taken place in Kempsey, Port Macquarie, Taree, Macksville, and Coffs Harbour, and there are plans to roll more out.
NORTEC had already identified that they needed to begin building their staff’s confidence and ability to have conversations with their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. They realised there were cultural barriers, and that their staff needed to gain confidence in culturally competent ways of engaging.
Real Futures was the perfect partner to help NORTEC address their needs. As an Aboriginal owned and operated business, with years of experience and expertise in cultural competency training, plus a great track record of getting First Nations peoples into work, Real Futures was well-placed to assist NORTEC.
Indigenous people can face many issues when looking for work including not having transport or licences, financial and housing issues, education and literacy issues, lack of confidence, hope and motivation, lack of support or lack of skills and experience.
The Get Ready Workshop content was designed by Real Futures VTEC Manager, Melissa Fernando, to address these issues and get aspirants into work. The program kicked off its first two-day workshop on 18th February 2021 and will keep running throughout 2021.
The workshops include writing resumes, job applications, dealing with enrolment forms, interview techniques, and video interviews. Before the workshops Real Futures arranged yarn-ups with NORTEC staff so they could encourage job seekers to attend the workshop. Real Futures staff then coached and mentored aspirants through the job hunting process including picking them up and taking them to the workshops, arranging interviews after the workshop, taking aspirants to get interview clothes and PPE, and reaching out to employers and recommending the client for work.
Katie Clark is the Get Ready Program Manager and intensively supports the participants through the process. She starts by getting a good understanding of the aspirant and what they are capable of and addressing any concerns they have up front. She helps prepare aspirants for interviews, advocating with employers, and checking in with aspirants so they can talk through any issues that might arise during their employment. She also liaises heavily with NORTEC, so they are aware of what is happing with their clients, can assist with any onboarding expenditure, and are also building trust and rapport with the client.
A service level agreement has been signed by both parties and workshops are booked across the Mid North Coast of NSW up until August. There is planning underway to take the workshops further north into the NSW North Coast region.
Real Future’s biggest takeaway from running the sessions is that participants are often more job-ready than first thought. Aspirants just need a helping hand and to be steered in the right direction and given the skills and confidence to help themselves.