Reconnecting people to life-changing learning

The Centre is about to commence delivery of its second Skills First Reconnect program funded by the Victorian Government’s, Department of Education and Training.

“With our two Reconnect programs, The Centre is receiving funding of over $1 million to provide one-on-one support to help people with significant barriers to accessing formal education programs to eventually enrol in a course that will change their lives” said Felicity Williams, CEO of The Centre for Continuing Education.

“Reconnect funding has provided the backbone funding we needed to establish our Learner Engagement Team,” said Ms Williams. “The establishment of this team has been a watershed for The Centre, enabling us to provide much needed wrap around support for our learners, many of whom have multiple challenges, including mental health issues, family dysfunction, alcohol and drug dependence, unemployment and low educational attainment.”

“Couple these difficulties with poor past educational experiences and low levels of confidence, it is easy to appreciate that coming into an education and training provider organisation can be extremely daunting for many people in our community,” she said. “Our Learner Engagement Officers provide a warm welcome to all of our learners and are able to spend time with each learner to understand their individual circumstances and talk about the best learning and education options for each person.”

“The Learner Engagement Officers then spend regular time with each learner to ensure they are well supported at each turn and are accessing additional support from our support agency partners when needed.”

“We have nearly completed delivery of our first Reconnect program and have directly assisted over 60 learners throughout North East Victoria to successfully enrol in a vocational education course that has resulted in employment and or further education,” she said. “For many of these learners, gaining literacy and numeracy skills, core work and inter-personal skills, and setting goals and taking real action has been life changing.”

“A requirement of the Reconnect program is for all participants to complete a Learning and Achievement Plan with their Learner Engagement Officer’s guidance and support.”

“This plan provides an ideal way for each person to identify a number of goals and things that he or she can control and plan achievable actions to achieve. This sense of achievement, following review during their involvement in Reconnect and at graduation, is extremely valuable in building self-esteem and confidence heading into a positive and bright future.”

Trent Jones is one of The Centre’s Learner Engagement Officers. Trent has first hand experience of the positive impact education can have on a person’s life. As a young man, Trent experienced difficulties and set backs that made his life extremely difficult. Purely by chance he completed a Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Then he completed a Forklift course. He kept interacting with education and training until he completed his Certificate IV in Alcohol and Drug Counselling.

“Every time I completed a new licence or qualification my life got a bit better,” Mr Jones said. “For me, education has been an enabler that has given me confidence to take up some great employment opportunities and provide a safe and happy home for my family.”