Unlike traditional apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships are aimed at more experienced workers, giving them the opportunity to learn on the job and develop their leadership skills at the same time.
The Higher Apprenticeship initiative for Victoria’s social services sector was developed by RMIT and the Future Social Service Institute (FSSI) in close collaboration with industry. It is fully funded by the Victorian Government, meaning participants do not pay course fees.
It allows the higher apprentices, hand-picked by their employers for their leadership potential, to learn while doing on-the-job training to help them cement their leadership skills.
Minister for Training and Skill and Higher Education Gayle Tierney recently welcomed 25 students to the Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management course via video link.
“This innovative model of training enables participants to earn while they learn, keeping them in a job – which is essential as we respond to the coronavirus pandemic,” Tierney said.
“The social services sector is one of Victoria’s fastest growing. We’re ensuring Victorians get the right training they need to meet the demand for highly skilled workers in this sector.”
RMIT Pro Vice-Chancellor Vocational Education Mish Eastman said RMIT had a proud history of working with government and industry to lead innovative, internationally-recognised teaching practice.
“At RMIT we’re focused on creating outstanding graduate outcomes and we’re delighted to be delivering this high quality, nationally accredited pilot program tailored for working professionals as part of the Higher Apprentices program,” she said.
Future Social Service Institute (FSSI) Director Micaela Cronin said RMIT would provide its educational design capabilities to develop the future program based on evaluation of the pilot.
She said FSSI had worked closely with six industry partners, the Department of Education and Training, and RMIT’s School of Vocational Design and Social Context to bring the pilot to life.
“This is exactly what the FSSI was created for – to design world-best education programs for the social service sector and help train the workforce of the future,” Cronin said.
“Drawing on our partnership with VCOSS and the University's strengths across vocational and higher education, we’re ready and eager to step up and assist the Government with this important scheme.”
The course is one of two pilot schemes that have together received $5.6 million in government funding. The other pilot scheme, the Big Build Higher Apprenticeship, is being run by Swinburne University with participants from major construction companies based in Victoria.
Training in the higher apprenticeship in Social Services was originally scheduled to begin on 16 March and has since been rapidly revamped to allow for greater online delivery with coronavirus restrictions, with the first online classroom for participants held on 27 April.
Over the next 18 months, FSSI will evaluate the program and – based on feedback from students, industry partners and other experts – co-design and develop a program that can be rolled out across Victoria. This will provide a leading work-based leadership development qualification for working professionals.
Story: Karen Phelan