Case study: School based traineeships

Service provider and high school both benefit from regional Health Hub

My Horizon – a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) service provider and support organisation in Queensland – has collaborated with a local high school – Mabel Park – to encourage more young people to join the disability sector.

The need
My Horizon’s General Manager Operations, Janine Lillico, recognised that the NDIS workforce was predominantly middle-aged, however there were high numbers of young people with disability registering for the NDIS who wanted young support workers.

The initiative
With the coming of the NDIS, Mabel Park saw strong employment opportunities for their students in an industry that needs more young workers. The school’s training centre – or Health Hub – offers a Certificate II in Health Support Services, which is a good stepping stone to careers in health and disability. More than 100 students from the school’s region are taking the Certificate. The school guides students who complete it into traineeships with local health and disability organisations.

Students can then do Certificate III in Individual Support as a school-based traineeship with one of the school’s disability service provider partners. By this time, most students are in Year 12. So, although they start their employment under a school-based traineeship, once they graduate from school the employer converts the employment contract into a part-time traineeship until they qualify.

Janine and My Horizon’s Intake Officer, Jake Turcato, heard about Mabel Park’s Health Hub and thought that a school-based traineeship model could help them get more young people into their organisation.

The collaboration
Janine and Jake spoke to the school’s Health Hub students about careers in disability. Jake, a young man who started work as a trainee, offered students a realistic and relatable portrayal of disability work drawing on his own experiences.

My Horizon also held an ‘Inspiration Day’ where students interacted with NDIS participants and learnt about the work and skills needed to care for people with disability.

As many as 70 applied for a school-based traineeship at My Horizon. Janine said My Horizon was looking for “common sense and the right attitudes and values; if they come with the right attitude, we can teach them the skills”.

Diversity encouraged
Janine added that diversity was encouraged. “It’s all about the match with participants,” she said. “One student did a vocational placement in aged care but they didn’t want him back because he had a mohawk and piercings, which meant he didn’t quite fit the environment. We’ve employed him as a trainee support worker for NDIS participants. We don’t care what he looks like. He’s got great skills, the right attitude and the young participants love him.”

Benefits to employers and young employees
Janine said My Horizon employed 12 school-based trainees from this first round and plan to continue to recruit this way.

“Young people may not have life experience but they bring different qualities to the role. They are a similar age to participants, have similar interests and relate on the same level,” she said.

“In the first six months, new trainees may require some extra attention or support, and it may take a bit of time to roster and coordinate – but we see this as an investment. At the end you’ve got great workers eager to contribute. You can’t get a better worker than someone who loves their job.”

Mabel Park’s Training and Employment Head, Judith Fewtrell said: “Most importantly, the program has opened the students’ eyes to opportunities in the industry. Also, we have seen how they don’t give up if they have a problem; they come to us and we help them work out a solution.”

Support resources
The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network can help you to identify school-based training opportunities within your organisation, and provide support to set up school-based traineeships with suitable applicants.

This is an adapted version of a case study kindly shared by the Community Services Industry Alliance. It originally appeared in the ‘Building the NDIS Workforce through Traineeships’ section of the NDIS Workforce Skills Projects report produced by Jobs Queensland.