Higher Apprenticeships Pilot Carves New Pathways for Emerging Leaders

Whilst the coronavirus crisis has triggered a rapid transformation of the Australian education sector over the past six weeks, the nation-wide shift to remote learning is not the only interesting innovation that has been occurring. FSSI, in partnership with the School of Vocational Design and Social Context at RMIT University, has just launched the social services pilot of the Victorian Government’s Higher Apprenticeship Scheme.

Developed to provide experienced workers across a range of key industries greater access to further education, the scheme forms part of the Government’s skills and training vision for Victoria. Recognised for its innovative approach to higher education, RMIT University is proud to be one of only two educational institutes chosen to participate in the pilot phase.

Utilising RMIT’s existing Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management, the pilot targets areas such as risk management, change and innovation, human resources, finances, and occupational health and safety processes. Structured as a series of two-day workshops held once a month over eighteen months, it sports an “earn and learn” model which allows participants to gain valuable management and leadership skills while they work.

The RMIT pilot was officially launched on Tuesday 28 April by the Hon. Gayle Tierney MP, Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education. Although originally planned as an on-site event, current social distancing requirements prompted a last-minute shift to the Collaborate Ultra digital platform. The Minister welcomed the first cohort of professional learners via video address, acknowledging their valuable service to the Victorian community. “In this challenging time, your work caring for fellow Victorians has never been more vital and appreciated.”

For Mish Eastman, RMIT’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Vocational Education, the Higher Apprentices Pilot presents an exciting opportunity to transform traditional educational models within the sector. “Unlike traditional apprenticeships, these new programs, Higher Apprenticeships, are aimed at providing up-skilling pathways in the workplace for experienced workers.”

She applauded the mutually supportive, three-way partnership that has been established between the learners, RMIT, and the host employers, “We will be taking the opportunity with you as a pilot group to learn in a really agile way, us as an education provider and you as participants, so that we can ensure that we can take our lessons from this and really accelerate the differences we can make to the provision of our programs.”

The pilot aligns closely with FSSI’s vision of driving innovation in education to build a stronger Victorian community. Like the RMIT Vocational Education team, FSSI is looking forward to using the new knowledge gained from the pilot to inform the iterative co-design and production of the new Higher Apprenticeship Training Program in development over the next eighteen months.

For both FSSI and RMIT, the launch of the Higher Apprenticeships Pilot provides an exciting opportunity to reshape workforce development within the community sector.