Case study: Private RTO. Assisting with their professional development needs


The most notable outcome, however, has been the much improved staff retention rate.

Source: NSW State Training Services Professional Development Program: 

Even in the current environment, with the VET industry facing the pressure of change on many fronts, Wise Education Group believes strongly that the professional development of all their staff is an investment that pays off in all senses of the word. Wise, an RTO based in inner-city Alexandria, has found that customised professional development workshops offered by the Department of Education and Communities are helping to inject new ideas, motivate their staff and create team cohesion.

As a result, staff turnover has dropped to almost zero, with measurable benefits for the bottom line. Kelly North, CEO of Wise, says that they began by sending individual staff members to the Quality Training workshops offered by State Training Services. While they were impressed by the professionalism of presentations, and there were clear benefits for staff members attending, they recognised that the workshops had a broad approach aimed at the diverse VET staff attending. As well as wanting to customise the training to the needs of their business, Kelly emphasised that it was an important goal for them to enable all staff to attend the training, to ensure that both administrative staff and trainers have a common understanding of the VET environment and professional issues. Kelly North and Anthony Gatley, the Learning and Development Manager, met with Joanne Ayoub, RTO Professional Development Coordinator at State Training Services, to discuss the training needs of their business and plan for customised workshops to be delivered at Wise premises.

By talking through their priorities, Joanne was able to recommend a range of workshop topics that would develop skills to support their business goals. Prior to each workshop, the facilitator discussed the workshop content with Wise managers, and incorporated Wise Education Group practices and resources into the training, ensuring that staff had a strong sense of the relevance of the professional development. An unexpected benefit has been that by seeing their own practices within the broader educational context, staff have been able to make improvements to the way they do things, and the reason for these changes is understood by all staff. Kelly North feels that as a result of the training there is a higher knowledge level across the whole business.

In planning for future professional development workshops Wise is preparing for change. Their priorities include keeping up-to-date with the implementation of Smart and Skilled, developing strategies for independent validation of assessment that draw on the strengths of their existing practices, and a move into online training. A further benefit of the increased level of knowledge has been greater use being made of the company’s suggestions scheme for continuous improvement. To support this, the paperwork involved has been simplified and rewards introduced for the best suggestions.

At Wise there is now an established pattern of professional development workshops held four times per year. This occurs within the wider professional development approach for staff, with individual training programs, linked where possible to national qualifications, established for staff members at recruitment. A performance management program ensures that staff are involved in determining the direction of their training to meet career goals.

The most notable outcome, however, has been the much improved staff retention rate.

Kelly North commented that eighteen months ago they were struggling to retain staff, but that in the past twelve months staff turnover has been almost zero. Kelly believes that the professional development program provides a natural reward system, with staff appreciating the opportunity to keep their skills up-to-date. Participation by all staff in training contributes to the sense of team coherence and pride in their workplace which the Wise Education Group fosters through other workplace programs as well. The major strategy is called “Wise in the Community” a corporate volunteering program which enables all staff to contribute some time to help the community is a variety of ways.

The program was established at Wise last year in partnership with The Centre for Volunteering and is planned to continue with four volunteering days per year. Staff has assisted at an aged care facility and took part in a clean-up day in Centennial Park Customised training delivered in-house has enabled Wise Education Group to position its staff development within the broader context of enhancing staff morale and collaboration as well as ensuring that staff knowledge and skills give them resilience for future challenges in VET.






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