SENIOR secondary students in the region have plenty of opportunities at their fingertips with local employers generously offering placements to support students through their senior years’ pathway programs.
The student support includes Structured Workplace Learning (SWL), Work Experience and School Based Apprenticeships (SBAT).
Job and skill shortages have been a big problem across a variety of industries in the region, but local businesses like Suffoir Winery are committed to addressing the issue.
Students are the key to the employment growth and exposure to those students was paramount through work placements.
Suffoir Winery owners, Michelle and Pieter Badenhorst are passionate about giving the younger generation increased opportunity in the work force.
They currently offer a range of unique work placements including viticulture and agriculture, hospitality, multimedia marketing and event services.
Iconic festival, Music in the Vines which was hosted by the couple at Suffoir Winery was among the endless opportunities open to local students looking to gain work experience.
Glenelg and Southern Grampians Local Learning and Employment Network (GSGLLEN) executive officer, Anne Murphy said the work placements benefited both students and business owners.
“Work placements are an excellent opportunity for senior students to test their career aspirations and understand the requirements of the industry,” she said.
“At the same time, allowing local businesses to assess the suitability of potential candidates for their business.”
Ms Badenhorst said it was something the couple had always wanted to do and after linking up with GSGLLEN and beginning full time work at the winery, it was the perfect time to start putting plans in place.
“An opportunity came to work with GSGLLEN, and they mentioned the work placements with high school students and after the very busy summer, we decided we wanted to be exploring all avenues,” she said.
“Being a small family-run business, you will work in a friendly environment and get to experience all aspects of running a small business.”
“We’re also open to the idea of traineeships, if we come across a student who is keen to get into the industry, we would definitely be taking the time to show and teach them.”
Students don’t always have it figured out before they leave school and Ms Badenhorst said the placement would give them a “taster” of what it’s like to work in different areas.
She said they were open to almost anyone whether it was a current student, gap year student or school leaver – stating it was more about the levels of interest.
“I think it’s very important for kids to explore different avenues of careers, I don’t think we all wake up one day and know exactly what we are doing for the rest of our lives,” she said.
“Especially for high school kids to see their interests, we are working on every aspect that comes into where we can help them for their career paths.”
Ms Badenhorst said students would gain vital experience on how to manage and run a large-scale local event with the opening to also help with the marketing and social media side.
“Music in the Vines is just around the corner (and) with a mountain of work, we are always looking for extra hands,” she said.
“It is important for students to know that there is work to come back to if they do end up going off to university.”
Opportunities such as this are accessible to all students within the region and are able to be viewed via the SWL Statewide Portal.
By using the portal, students and parents are able to find a matching work placement suitable for their needs.
“The first step is either going through your school coordinator or GSGLLEN, they do the most part,” Ms Badenhorst said.
“There are so many opportunities out there and so many great agencies such as GSGLLEN that go the extra mile for students, it would be a shame if the students didn’t take advantage of initiatives like this.”
If you are an employer and would like to support our local students, please contact SWL coordinator, Janelle Tooley on 0418 821 243.
To access the available opportunities in the region, log on to workplacements.education.vic.gov.au.