Support for retrenched workers
The Geelong Region LLEN has an established network of partnerships with key stakeholders across employment, training and community services. The integrated cross - sectoral approach is vital to ensuring improved support for re-employment. With better integration of stakeholders, improved support for any one cohort will effectively improve support for all cohorts. With the progress of the work by the GRLLEN, Geelong is well placed to be a national leader in improved re-employment support.
One specific target is mature-aged retrenched men. There are multiple disadvantages for retrenched mature-aged blue-collar men and the impact of their unemployment has major social and economic costs with their unemployment being a major factor in suicide, family breakdown and homelessness. The men themselves express considerable concern about the quality of current re-employment support and there is evidence that poor service may lead to further isolation. Engagement of the jobseeker is challenging and seems to be fundamental to success.
GRLLEN’s work with retrenched workers is underpinned by a virtual one stop shop for education, training and employment specific to the Geelong region www.geelongcareers.org.au and the information it contains has been localized to ensure that retrenched workers are well informed about the realities of the local labour market and its opportunities.
Advanced Manufacturing Taster Program
Held in 2015, this was a taster program for workers who were recently retrenched from the manufacturing industry. The program involved workers undertaking an initial assessment, visiting advanced manufacturing organisations, learning about job and volunteer opportunities in the advanced manufacturing sector, career counselling and training support.
Community Services Taster Program
These focused on men over 45 who were exiting manufacturing roles and sought to expose them to the variety of opportunities that exist in the region’s biggest growth industry in terms of employment. The first program was launched as part of a targeted response to the retrenchments at Avalon, with the second one involving men who had been retrenched from a range of places. Programs involved visiting 6 Community Services partner organisations, learning about job and volunteer opportunities in the sector, structured careers counselling, focus on Return to Work Plans and supported enrolment into matching training. The program was developed with a particular concern to ensure participants were well engaged as there are examples of mature aged men not responding well to the usual employment supports provided by JSAs and RTOs. Both programs were very successful, with excellent levels of engagement (20 men in each), very positive employer support and feedback from participants was extremely good. At the end of the second program, 4 participants had gained employment in the sector and 15 were in accredited training with 3 of these also volunteering.
A training program for presenters at the Workshop series and others in services that may come into contact with unemployed men. This session looked at the issues and challenges around effective engagement with mature-aged men; many unemployed men may already be highly stressed as a result of their unemployment and may be at risk of further isolation from services and support. There is strong evidence that some of the contact with services may be compounding the difficulties some men face.
On the Front Foot workshops
This initiative was held in 2014 and consisted of a series of employment focused workshops targeting workers who have recently been made redundant in Geelong. The six-part workshop series was designed to support retrenched workers by providing current and localized labour market information, job search strategies and an opportunity to network with employers, industry representatives and other job seekers. Over the course of the workshop series 158 people attended with over 35 speakers from the community running sessions on a pro bono basis. Workshops focused on a different local ‘trending’ industry.
Participants found the Workshops motivating and practical. They valued being able to talk directly to local employers and other men in the same situation. Evaluations revealed that Workshop participants were encouraged by the specific focus on older workers and many considered industry sectors and work roles they had not previously thought about.
45 Plus Mens Program
The 45 Plus Mens Program was designed to help mature aged retrenched / unemployed men in Geelong. A formal pilot of the program was federally funded in 2015 with a strong independent evaluation recommending a national rollout.
- Eleven retrenched mature aged men participated in a 4 day workshop and were then connected with private recruitment companies to gain employment
- Participants said they were relieved to share their stories and now felt re-motivated to get back into the workforce
Foot in the Door - Experience for Work
Job seekers may be well qualified and have excellent transferrable skills but what holds them back is lack of experience. In response to this feedback from the men themselves, the program was developed to provide retrenched workers with opportunities to gain workplace experience in a sector of interest as a future career. This involves creating a repository for all local work experience opportunities on the existing Geelong Careers website. Three industries have been selected for the pilot. The work experience opportunities will be contained in a fully searchable database and jobseekers will be able to apply for the opportunities in the same way that they can currently apply for a job. Additional resources for employers and job seekers will also be produced and made available to the public via this website. The project has three main elements:
- further development of the www.geelongcareers.org.au IT platform and creation of a work experience database and user interface
- employer engagement and consultation to discuss topics with employers across different industries and encouraging as many employers as possible to consider offering work experience opportunities
- development of materials, resources and advice regarding work experience. Some aspects will be aimed at employers and others at jobseekers. All material will be tailored to different industries.