LOCAL WORKFORCE: Skills for Jobs in Regions’ Pika Wiya Health Worker Project program manager Verity McTaggart and program participant Tanita Paige with Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills Gail Gago in Port Augusta last week.Almost 500 people in Port Augusta are being assisted to develop their skills and access local job opportunities under a program designed to keep people employed in their local communities.
Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills Gail Gago was in town on Wednesday of last week to discuss the next round of funding of the locally successful ‘Skills for Jobs in Regions’ program.
Minister Gago said it’s critical for regions to retain a local workforce.
“It’s most important that we don’t keep losing our young people from our regions into the city and also interstate,” she said.
“The key to keeping them into their local communities and local families, is work.”
The aim is to increase the state’s skilled workforce in areas of regional and local industry need, and create more employment opportunities through delivering tailored employment projects.
The minister said the great advantage of the program is the strong connection between the training provider and industry.
“The employers have the opportunity to identify the skills that they need, the training provider provider is then able to make sure that they put a package of skills and training together that specifically meets that employers need, and then they deliver it – and there’s a job at the end of that training,” she explained.
“It is specifically designed to meet a service need on the ground…we don’t train for training’s sake, we train for jobs.”
In Port Augusta specifically, 165 of 487 participants have already found employment and there are still three months remaining in the program.
Some industry needs identified in the Port Augusta area include engineering, support to engineering (aligned with mining endeavours), aged care and mental health care workers.
Pika Wiya Health Worker Project program manager Verity McTaggart sung the program’s praises, suggesting it is the ideal way of recruiting employees.
She said under the Skills for Jobs in Regions program, Pika Wiya were able to identify a shortfall in Aboriginal health workers in their mental health team, and attract a number of trainees to complete a Certificate III in Primary Health Care.
“It’s great I think, for Aboriginal people in particular, because it’s a group coming together to study Monday to Friday, so it’s building a rapport,” she said.
One of these participants is local mother Tanita Paige, who decided to join the program to improve her chances of getting a job as a nurse.
She said she has every intention of staying in Port Augusta for work.
“Thankfully Pika Wiya are offering these courses because it’s always something that I wanted to do,” Ms Paige said.
“I hope that it will provide me with the stepping stone I need to complete my Diploma in Nursing or pursue a cadetship at the Port Augusta Hospital or the Pika Wiya Learning Centre.”
The next round of funding is underway, and the state government is currently taking submissions and proposals for the 2014-2015 financial year.
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