1 Apsley Court, Blue Haven, NSW, 2262
Set up in 2012 in response to the Federal Government’s Teenage Parent Measure (an extension of the Compact with Young Australians) Skills for Tomorrow offers young mothers the opportunity to gain a foundation qualification as well as additional vocational credentials while offering high quality childcare for their children. The program is delivered by the Hunter Institute of TAFE in partnership with several government, non-government and community organisations. The main location is in Wyong shire, a regional area with a teenage pregnancy rate of 6.4%, compared to the NSW state average of 4.1%. During 2012-2013 4 cohorts have participated, 3 at Blue Haven and 1 at The Entrance, with a total of almost 50 students. The program is designed to be portable, so may be offered at other locations where there is interest. A cohort is planned for the Lake Macquarie region later in 2013.
How this program works
Skills for Tomorrow aims to enable young people facing substantial social and economic barriers to gaining education and employment to engage with the learning process, define their educational and career goals and embark on the path to achieving them. It uses a partnership approach including several faculties of the Hunter Institute of TAFE, the federal Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), the NSW State Government Department of Human Services (DHS), Child and Family Services Wyong Shire Inc, Schools as Community Centre Blue Haven, and Regional Development Australia – Central Coast. The program is underpinned by a strengths basedphilosophy with successes and achievements celebrated.
Skills for Tomorrow is offered in 2 stages over 18 weeks, plus a long term follow-up stage. For stage 1 the program offers a soft entry for 10 weeks, with students attending 2 days per week in the local community centre with child care on site for their children. During this time they complete a foundation qualification (Certificate II in Skill for Work and Training or in Community Services). During stage 2 the students move on to take some classes at the Wyong and Ourimbah TAFE Campuses to gradually familiarize the participants with the TAFE environment and to complete vocational taster units (some of which may count towards a Certificate III) in fields such as Children’s Services, Health Services and Barista Skills. These courses are chosen in response to local employment needs and student interest. For this 2nd stage, students are assisted to access high quality early childhood services, to replace the childcare service at the community centre. The program also includes systematic mentoring and individual case management. Social media (texting and Facebook) are utilised to maximise engagement. By offering childcare and transport the program addresses the most common barriers to returning to education for young parents. Upon completion, the follow-up phase enables ongoing mentoring for up to 3 years through the Reaching Your Destination program to maintain community connection and access to services, and where relevant assist transition into Certificate III courses at TAFE or into