Providers lead the way with traineeships

A collaboration spearheaded by aged care operators to provide facility-based traineeships to mature age workers is proving an effective workforce recruitment and retention strategy.


A collaboration spearheaded by aged care operators to provide facility-based traineeships to mature age workers is proving to be an effective workforce recruitment and retention strategy.

What began as a pilot project in the mid north coast of NSW in 2011 has sparked the interest of providers across Australia, with versions of the program now rolling out in several states.

Under the program, aged care providers partner with registered training organisations to provide traineeships in which participants undertake certificate III studies, with at least 15 hours per week supervised work placement.

Extensive screening before and during the process ensures “right fit” candidates are filtered through the program, which is targeted at mature age workers. Past participants have ranged in age from 19 to 62-years-old.

The pioneers of the program told Australian Ageing Agenda it was an industry-led response to the issues of poor quality training and workforce recruitment and retention.

Heather Nicholls, regional general manager of Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution (north region), said the program was running at two of its facilities in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen, and her organisation had since collaborated with two other providers.

The program began with federal funding in 2011 as Bringing it All Together, and was subsequently rebadged the New Entrant Program (NEP). Through the national Aged Care WIN project, which is run by the Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC), versions of the program had rolled out in Western Australia, south east Melbourne and Tasmania.

WIN projects in the Illawarra region and central coast in NSW, and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, had also expressed interest in establishing the program in their regions, according to Jan Johnson, business partner of the Mid North Coast WIN.

Employers were starting to realise that the program addressed attraction, selection, recruitment and retention of “right fit candidates”, Ms Johnson told AAA. The program was very practical and providers were embedding it within their overall approach to workforce. Importantly, the program had become self-sustaining and in some areas providers were running it without the support of a government-funded coordinator, she said.

Filtering the right candidates

A robust selection process underpinned the program, which began with an information session where candidates heard about the reality of working in aged care, the positives and the negatives. Those interested were invited back for a “speed interview” the following day, and successful candidates went through to a four-week “pre vocational” course. Upon completion of this course, participants received a certificate of attainment and credit for up to five units of the certificate III. A formal interview followed, and successful participants were then offered one of the traineeships.

Ms Johnson said it generally took six weeks from the initial information session to the start of the formal traineeship, which was a short enough period to maintain the participants’ interest but long enough for stakeholders, including the job seekers, to make an informed decision about whether the sector was right for them. “We want people to come in educated, to have some of the myths debunked, so we get the right fit candidate we can work with,” she said.

A unique aspect of the program was that candidates who completed the four-week pre-vocational course and decided not to pursue a career as a carer, but who had the right “attitude and aptitude for aged care”, may be offered a traineeship in another aspect of the sector, such as hospitality, Ms Johnson said.

Learning in the workplace

Ms Nicholls said that during the traineeship providers ensured the trainees were “buddied” with a senior staff member, so that after completion of the course they were ready to take on shifts and could function as part of the team. Providers also guaranteed at least 15 hours of “on site” or facility-based learning each week, though Ms Nicholls said the Royal Freemasons typically provided 20 hours per week. After completion of the course, providers also guaranteed trainees a minimum number of hours work.

Past trainees reported that the facility-based nature of the traineeship reinforced the theory component of the certificate III and ultimately enhanced their learning. “They were very positive about the ‘learning in the workplace’ aspect of the program,” said Ms Nicholls. “They were well supported in the facility and many felt they may not have been as able to cope if they had been doing mainly classroom work.”

Both Ms Nicholls and Ms Johnson said the program enabled providers to work with RTOs to ensure that training provided was of a high quality, practical and effective. Ms Nicholls said her experience had been that while graduates of certificate III courses had the right attitude, their training was often poor and they lacked basic skills.

Ms Johnson said that within NSW there were now 16 providers involved in the program, with versions running in the Nambucca Valley and in the Port Hastings region. Ms Nicholls added that she was about to launch the program at two Royal Freemasons’ facilities in New England.

Ms Nicholls and Ms Johnson will further discuss the traineeship program at the Elephant in the Room conference, which is organised by the CS&HISC and takes place from 29-30 April at the Terrigal Crowne Plaza, Central Coast, NSW.

AAA is the media partner of the Elephant in the Room conference. For live updates from the event, follow AAA on Twitter.



Tags: aged care win, cshisc, heather nicholls, jan johnson, recruitment, retention, royal-freemasons, workforce,

2 thoughts on “Providers lead the way with traineeships

  1. The Arcare Training Institute offers a Certificate III in Aged Care and because we have our own aged care residences, we guarantee and arrange all of your clinical placements for you.

    If you successfully complete the course, there is also potential employment available at one of our residences.

    The course is offered in Victoria and Queensland at a variety of locations and we have day and night classes available. Government funding is also available depending on eligibility criteria.

  2. Hi my name Is Leeanne are there any other aged care traineeships like the one above gone by Ms Nicholls or Mr Johnson on The Central coast

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