• Outside-in
  • Community Services Sector
  • Central Queensland

The Challenge

CentacareCQ is a social services agency with a considerable geographical coverage area, including areas of socio-economic disadvantage. With skill shortages in the Rockhampton region, in both the aged care and emerging National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) workforces, CentacareCQ identified a need to increase both their internal and the regional personal support workforce.

The Solution

  • To start bringing in younger workers to increase age diversity
  • To build workforce capacity and the capability to maintain the local workforce overall, through partnerships with local organisations and schools
  • To raise student awareness of career options in the largest employing industry in Queensland
  • To provide education and employment opportunities for young people who may not pursue higher education


Through existing relationships between CentacareCQ and Emmaus College, a collaborative partnership was developed to provide placement opportunities for school-based trainees as part of the school’s vocational education and training (VET) strategy. CentacareCQ opted to host trainees in personal support roles, deeming them the most appropriate for the age group.


Organisational strategies
  • CentacareCQ had to review and alter some internal Human Resources policies and procedures to accommodate the trainees, and ensure suitable supervision, but otherwise had to make very few changes, and very little financial investment.
  • Emmaus College has built the costs of training into school fees.
  • Emmaus College puts students in direct contact with their hosts to reduce the burden on the teacher and coordinator in coordinating schedules.
Partnership strategies
  • CentacareCQ partnered with Emmaus College in Rockhampton to provide work experience for students undertaking a Certificate III in Allied Health Services. This partnership initially arose from personal relationships between the CentacareCQ and Emmaus College staff.
  • As CentacareCQ was unable to accommodate the volume of placements required, Emmaus College also developed partnerships with other catholic organisations such as an aged care facility close by that could take on students.
  • Emmaus College has their own teacher for their VET subjects but have partnered with registered training organisations (RTOs) and local businesses to provide placements.
Program design strategies
  • Students are provided with practical work experience as personal support workers.
  • Students interested in a career within the health sector are targeted to participate in the program and work alongside industry mentors.
  • The students are offered the Certificate III in Allied Health Services as part of their electives at school.
  • A bus is offered for students who may have difficulty in accessing transport.
  • The opportunity to earn and learn is an attractive part of the program, particularly for the students coming from a disadvantaged background.


Lessons Learned

  • This model is effective in attracting an aged care and disability workforce. It may be a challenge in disciplines where school-based trainees aren’t the most appropriate to provide a service.
  • A Grow Your Own (GYO) approach should be considered in tandem with other strategies, and in partnership with other service providers in the region. It is not enough to meet workforce demand on its own.
  • Consider geographic location and access to technology, particularly for supervision, mentoring, development and debriefing.
  • Peer support is essential throughout the program.
  • Factor in the time needed to ensure that the teachers are signed off to teach the courses and have the appropriate content knowledge and skill.
  • It is important to factor in the possibility that the number of trainees may fluctuate depending on how many students decide to pursue VET as an elective.

Do you…

  • have engaged local schools with a VET program?
  • have staffing within the school to facilitate a Workforce Learning Program?
  • have a quality local RTO for training delivery?

Can you…

  • provide access to transport for students (if required)?
  • provide meaningful placement experiences for students?

Do you…

  • have sufficient local student numbers?
  • have organisationsal capacity to supervise students?

What if…

  • students do not fit with the organisation’s values and culture?
  • VET elective numbers are insufficient for required recruitment?