The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program provides language, literacy and numeracy assessment and training to eligible job seekers, with the expectation that such improvements will enable them to participate more effectively in training or in the labour force. These skills are important for supporting individuals’ integration and participation in Australian society, achieving better employment outcomes, and to participate in future training and development opportunities.
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There are many different myths about the SEE program and who can participate. This includes a participants language, literacy and numeracy ability, demographics, cultural backgrounds and the type of training/qualifications that are offered, the classroom format, tailoring of courses to individual needs and the ability for it to be combined with other activies of an approved activity under jobactive/Work for the Dole. So let’s separate the myths from the facts surrounding the SEE program.
Myth 1: ‘SEE is only for non-English speakers’
The SEE program is for eligible job seekers with any Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) barriers. Improvements to LLN skills will help job seekers to participate more effectively in training or in the labour force. The program is particularly well equipped to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Youth and Mature Aged job seekers.
‘Belinda has experienced a number of challenges in her life. She came from a low socioeconomic background, had low educational achievement and was often in poor health. She had not been employed for 15 years. After completing her SEE training, Belinda was advised that an appropriate pathway would be enrolling in Espresso Machine Operations based on her vocational interest. Belinda kept in touch with her SEE teachers and accessed additional support when required. Her personal growth was rewarding and her own sense of self-worth improved. Belinda successfully completed her unit of competency and has now enrolled in Certificate II Kitchen Operations and commenced as a volunteer at a pet rescue organisation.’
Belinda (aged 43) – TAFE NSW
Myth 2: ‘Participants in SEE have zero Language, Literacy and numeracy ability’
The SEE program is for job seekers of all abilities who have some form of LLN based barrier that hinders their participation in employment or training. SEE Training providers assess job seekers on their LLN ability using the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) as part of the Pre-Training Assessment (PTA). The five core skills measured in the ACSF are learning, reading, writing, oral communication and numeracy. Based on the outcome of the PTA, job seekers are placed into one of three different streams to help job seekers overcome the learning barriers they face.
The three streams are broken down as follows:
- Initial Language Stream – For clients whose first language may not be English (including Aboriginal and Torres Islanders whose first language may not be English) and demonstrate poor reading and oral communication skills
- Basic Language, Literacy and Numeracy Stream – For clients focussed on consolidating functional skills
- Advanced Language, Literacy and Numeracy Stream – For clients who have reasonable to high skills in some areas at the time of the PTA, but may require additional assistance in other areas
Assessed job seekers can be placed in any of the streams, however, the majority of participants usually commence in the Initial and Basic streams.
Training can take many different forms, ranging from short to long term, in class or at an offsite location, and can include work experience. Additionally, qualifications can range from Cert I through to Cert IV and in areas such as Hospitality, Aged Care, Accounts Administration and Retail Services.
‘With initial intention to improve his English, Charles was surprised with the Pre-employment Computer Literacy (PECL) component in the course and benefited greatly from attending. In this class, Charles developed his awareness and understanding of computer operation, skills on how to use office administration tools like Microsoft Office as well as how to apply jobs online. He states “I have learnt how to use computer, which is really good for my uni assignments. It helps a lot!” The trainer and assessor assisted Charles to decide a training path he could undertake to complete his education and training related qualifications. With great support and guidance from his trainer, Charles started to apply for his postgraduate diploma in TESOL and was successfully admitted to the course by Western Sydney University starting in July. Charles enjoyed the course very much and is very proud of what he is doing now.’
Charles (aged 56) – MTC
Myth 3: ‘Training has to deal with all three areas at once, i.e. Language, Literacy and Numeracy’
Clients referred to the SEE program do not always require language, literacy and numeracy training. They are often proficient in one of more of these areas and may just require some additional help in one discipline.
The PTA identifies the areas where clients require the most assistance. The clients are placed into one of the three streams of training (Initial, Basic, Advanced), and the individual areas that require assistance are explored and training is tailored.
The different streams of training available may offer assistance with digital literacy or improving their numeracy skills.
‘Haishan commenced with the program in May, where her PTA identified that her literacy skills were better than her oral communication skills.
The first 3-4 months of training were the hardest for Haishan as her communication skills were limited and she mostly used body language to communicate with her others. However after a few months of training, her trainer identified Haishan’s strengths – numeracy and digital skills. By asking Haishan to assist other students with their numeracy and digital skills (creating an email account, using the internet to search for work, completing tasks online), it boosted her confidence and she began to improve her oral communication skills. She has since been moved to a higher level class and interacts confidently with other students where she openly participates in class discussions and activities.’
Haishan (aged 48) – Navitas
Myth 4: ‘The SEE program is non vocational and does not connect to future employment’
Many different providers deliver the SEE program across a large range of courses. The embedding of LLN activities in courses with a large vocational component is very common amongst SEE providers.
Work experience can be part of the training curriculum and is offered to clients where possible. This allows clients to practice the outcomes of their courses and better prepare them for the work environment. Some providers have taken this a step further by forming partnerships with employers to train, and later employ students.
‘Rebecca was referred to the SEE program to undertake an LLN-supported vocational training course in Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) where she hoped to gain stable employment. Her motivation was high, and after completing the required units, she undertook 120 hours of work experience with a local aged care facility. She was offered a job within one week of commencing her work experience, and has now completed her training and is working in aged care.
CEA collaborates with appropriate local sector workplaces to create opportunity opportunities to full vocational certificates in a specific sector (eg aged care) which involves both classroom-based training and work experience.’
Rebecca (aged 22) – Career Employment Australia (CEA)
Myth 5: ‘The SEE program is only classroom based teaching; therefore it is not suitable for Indigenous and youth clients who always hated school’
SEE program providers are encouraged to combine LLN training with other vocational modules wherever possible, or embedding LLN into innovative and flexible training options. Providers embed LLN in courses tailored for the students and the employment opportunities available in the area. This can include courses such as cooking, art, welding, horticulture etc. This style of delivery encourages students to get out of the classroom and undertake ‘hands-on’ activities to further their learning.
An increasing number of providers are also using a range of alternative teaching methods to minimise or remove ‘classroom based teaching’. Examples of some of these alternative teaching methods
- Vocational style training where students learn practical skills required for a certain area of employment
- Work experience, where students actually gain experience working with an employer
- Group based activity, where students are encouraged to sit together and discuss and share learnings
- Project based, where students work collaboratively to deliver a project or plan and host an event.
‘After completing a Land and Conservation Management course, a group of SEE youth clients at TAFE NSW Lightning Ridge continued their participation in SEE by undertaking studies in a foundation skills unit, ‘Use basic strategies for work related learning’. The medium for this learning was opal polishing and cutting.
As part of the course, the clients were given hands-on practical experience in opal polishing and cutting. The course content quickly became very popular, as clients were encouraged to explore and develop their creativity. Attendance was high and clients arrived early for class. Numeracy and literacy were developed in opal cutting classes as clients studied weights and measures, carat versus currency, and many other mathematical formulas.’
TAFE NSW – Lighting Ridge
Myth 6: ‘The SEE program is not tailored to an individual’s needs’
After referring agencies have established the needs of clients, the agencies initiate contact with training providers to discuss the specific needs of all referred clients.
After initial meetings and completing the PTA, training providers are required to complete a Client Training Plan (CTP) with all clients before training can begin. The CTP is an agreement between the client and the provider outlining the specific tailored training the client will undertake and the provider will deliver. This includes all PTA results and compiles a record of the clients training progress in terms of ACSF indicators.
‘Sasa migrated to Australia at a very early age with his family and completed his schooling in Australia. He was always looking for opportunities to upgrade his skills to make him more employable.
Sasa was enrolled in the Employment Pathways Program class with MTC in a course designed to help students to seek employment successfully. In the course the trainer helped identified his skills, interests, traits and values and worked with him to develop better job searching and writing skills to create more effective cover letters and resumes. He also used laptops on most days to improve his digital skills such as learning how to use Microsoft Windows and Office Suite applications.
Upon exiting the program, Sasa mentioned that the MTC SEE program has given him more confidence in his abilities and skills and the knowledge from this course was extremely useful. He is now employed as a Traffic Controller.
Sasa (aged 37) – MTC
Myth 7: ‘I can only refer clients at the start of a semester, or the start of the year.’
Delivery of the SEE program is on a ‘rolling enrolment’ basis. Clients can be referred and begin training at any point during the year and semester.
Myth 8: ‘The SEE program cannot be combined with other activities or training’
SEE Providers are encouraged to embed LLN training in other skills and work based training. Often referred to as ‘contextualised training’, these flexible learning approaches may involve students spending a set number of hours/days on one type of activity, then a set number of hours/days on another, generally vocational or work experience type activities.
This assists to keep the students engaged and motivated, by not focussing on one area for too long a period, while developing a broader set of skills.
‘I facilitate a small group of indigenous women through a Certificate I in Access to Vocational Pathways via distance education. The focus for this group is to improve their abilities not only in literacy and numeracy, but also in computing.
It has been both rewarding and challenging to deliver to a group in such a remote area of Australia. The internet and telephone connections are not always reliable, but we have managed to navigate our way through most of these difficulties.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, we have been able to speak face-to-face via Skype for Business. It has made distance learning more visual for the learners and given me a greater understanding of the environment they are working in.
The women in the group are encouraged to go through their marked work and then to ask me any questions they have. This had led to personalised and relevant learning experiences.
Skype also allows us to share a whiteboard, where students can add comments or write answers to the things we are discussing.’
TAFE SA - Distance Learning
Myth 9: ‘SEE is not an approved activity’
All job seekers will have an Annual Activity Requirement after the first 12 months in jobactive and are required to undertake an approved activity for six months of each year. For most job seekers, that activity will be Work for the Dole, so this period is also referred to as the Work for the Dole Phase. Depending on the age of the job seeker and their capacity to work, they will be expected to participate in an approved activity for between 5 and 25 hours per week (130 - 650 hours over six months).
In the Work for the Dole phase, job seekers can meet their Annual Activity Requirement through various approved activities in agreement with their Employment Provider. SEE is an approved activity that can meet this requirement.
The Annual Activity Requirement is only for six out of every twelve months, however, job seekers can still be referred to SEE at any time and will be allowed to finish their SEE training if they have commenced prior to or during their Annual Activity Requirement period. All referring agencies, particularly employment providers such as jobactive, Disability Employment Services and Community Development Program providers should ensure their staff is aware of this.