Communities@Work has been named the ACT Large Employer of the Year in the ACT Training Awards 2019.
Canberra’s largest not-for-profit community organisation won top honours at the awards which recognise a large organisation with a demonstrated commitment to training its employees, and encouraging and assisting their development in their place of work.
Addressing a shortage of skilled people in children’s services, Communities@Work developed its own industry-leading traineeship program, known as ‘Ascend’. In a sector where qualified educators are in short supply across Australia, Ascend provides a pool of qualified and skilled educators for Canberra’s early education and care employers.
Running for three years, Ascend provides trainees with valuable paid experience as they work across early education and care services, and complete their qualification. Practical support is provided every step of the way, from face-to-face learning to a ‘robust induction’ process.
“I could not be prouder when I accepted the award,” Communities@Work chief executive Lee Maiden said. “Communities@Work is genuinely committed to investing in a highly skilled and qualified workforce. It is our dedicated people who make us who we are and give so much to the Canberra community.”
Communities@Work edged out an impressive field to take the top prize, beating Calvary John James and Calvary Bruce Private Hospitals, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, Janrule Pty Ltd and John McGrath Auto Group.
“Our trainers are very passionate people. That’s what we look for: people to train our people to be the best educated. They have to be the most passionate and dedicated people themselves,” Ms Maiden said. “That feeds through to our students wanting to be as good as they can be.”
Ms Maiden’s own journey with Communities@Work began more than 30 years ago as a volunteer at a childcare centre her son attended. She helped chop up the fruit and make paint.
Today as the chief executive, she is passionate about bringing on board and training excellent candidates. While gaining qualifications online is a quick entry into the sector, it simply doesn’t reflect the dedication Communities@Work requires. According to Ms Maiden, face-to-face training for staff is essential.
“The model we have is all about our staff understanding the value and importance of working with children,” Ms Maiden says.
For more than 40 years Communities@Work has developed a range of services for children, people with disabilities, seniors, transport services, food pantries, clothing and an independent high school for disengaged youth.
Today, its workforce of 700 people includes more than 420 early education and care educators who all work to support positive educational outcomes, and build a resilient, sustainable and socially inclusive community.
To complement formal training opportunities, Communities@Work staff are able to cross-skill and access alternative career pathways by working in various roles and areas in the organisation.
Chloe’s a great example of Communities@Work at work.
Chloe was an educational leader and successfully completed her Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. This opened an opportunity to become a Trainer Assessor within Communities@Work’s registered training organisation, the Centre of Professional Learning and Education.
Working within vocational education and training was Chloe’s career goal, and through a sponsorship program funded by Communities@ Work, she enrolled to complete her Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. The role of Trainer Assessor allowed Chloe to share her experiences as an Educational Leader and the knowledge she gained through her degree. Chloe is due to complete her degree this year and is looking forward to more learning opportunities to further her career.
Investing in its employees drives productivity and performance, enabling Communities@Work to deliver quality, affordable, innovative, flexible, value-for-money services. These benefits are seen right across the Canberra community.
Communities@Work will be representing the ACT at the Australian Training Awards in Brisbane on 21 November. To find out more about Communities@Work services visit commsatwork.org.