23 August 2022

New training and employment program sparks innovation to aid hospitality industry's skills shortage

| Dione David
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Young barista putting coffee on the pass at a cafe

The JobTrainer ClubsACT Hospitality Program is run by SPARK Ginninderry in partnership with Canberra Institute of Technology and ClubsACT. Photo: Ginninderry.

An innovative and free new training and employment program will boost skills and help ACT hospitality businesses struggling with staff shortages.

The JobTrainer ClubsACT Hospitality Program is a four-week accredited training program focusing on entry-level skills development, work experience and employment in the licensed club industry.

Run by SPARK Ginninderry in partnership with Canberra Institute of Technology and ClubsACT, it’s a combination of theory, practical learning and work placement providing an engaging introduction to the industry.

The tailored program will run four days a week from Tuesday 18 October and will cover customer service, food safety, bar operation and responsible service of alcohol, responsible gambling services and financial transactions handling.

The program is free, however eligibility criteria apply.

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Ginninderry Training and Employment Manager Mel Lyons, who works one-on-one with program participants, said 16 of the 20 students in the last program found employment, with one participant even getting a job in the first week.

“We’ve found our participants are much more confident going into a job because they’re getting hands-on experience throughout the program – for example working at the simulated cafe at CIT and having work experience and contact with ClubsACT staff and members,” she said.

“By the time they go for their interview at the end of the program, they are seeing all these familiar faces which reduces anxiety.”

Mel explained the CIT’s “simulated” cafe provided live training whereby participants could put the skills they learn in the program into practice in a supported environment with real customers.

“The key thing is the teachers are on floor with participants, so they have support right there if they have questions or need help,” she said.

Barista at a coffee machine making coffee

The program focuses on entry-level skills development, work experience and employment in the licensed club industry. Photo: Ginninderry.

SPARK also reduces barriers participants may face to completing the program, from ensuring they are given appropriate uniform and PPE equipment to providing fuel vouchers and bus tickets for transport.

Ginninderry is a joint venture between the ACT Government and Riverview Developments, with Riverview Projects (ACT) acting as development manager. SPARK training programs are designed to assist the long-term unemployed, and therefore take a holistic approach.

“We take into account their location and provide suitable work placements close to home,” Mel said.

“We also work with the clubs to provide participants with experience in their area of interest, for example some people might prefer barista training so we’ll set them up working the cafe, while others might enjoy working at the bar.”

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Mel said this ability to pair participants with experience in their areas of interest was one of the boons of the partnership with ClubsACT.

“It’s important that we’re listening to what our participants are interested in and working with ClubsACT has provided access to lots of different roles across their licensed clubs,” she said.

“This is key in retention – if we’re happy and enjoying what we’re doing we’re more likely to be successful. It makes a job more sustainable.”

With skills shortages continuing to plague a number of industries in Australia, more employers may need to consider out-of-the-box thinking to come up with solutions.

Group of people in black in front of tourism and hotel management centre in Canberra

The previous program was “incredibly successful” with 16 of 20 participants finding employment. Photo: Ginninderry.

Program partner ClubsACT will provide work experience placements and real employment pathways for participants who meet the criteria.

ClubsACT CEO Craig Shannon said the program’s first course earlier this year was “incredibly successful”, producing “incredible job-ready employees” for the industry, many of whom placed at ClubsACT venues.

“We could not be more impressed with the relationship that we’ve developed with SPARK Ginninderry and the quality of employees that have resulted,” Craig said.

An information session on this program, which is mandatory for all participants, will be held on Thursday 22 September at 11 am at the CIT Restaurant, 37 Constitution Avenue Reid. Visit the website for more information.

JobTrainer is a jointly funded initiative of the ACT and Australian Governments.

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This sounds like a great program, but until hospitality employers treat their staff with respect and pay them for their skills, it will never lead to a sustainable career. Some employers do the right thing and they don’t have trouble getting or keeping staff. Those complaining the loudest are often the worst employers who treat staff with contempt, as disposable tools.

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