A GROUP of 42 local high school students are gaining hands-on experience at Wyong and Gosford hospitals this year in a program aimed at developing a local workforce for the region’s health care industry.
Central Coast Local Health District and TAFE NSW, two of the Central Coast’s largest employers, welcomed their 2018 cohort of School-Based Trainees this week.
The collaboration will see the senior high school students take on a two-year program in nursing, business studies or allied health.
Central Coast Local Health District’s workforce operations manager Ian Arnold said the School-Based Traineeship (SBT) program enabled young people who were interested in a career in health to gain valuable work skills and experience at Gosford and Wyong hospitals while still at high school.
“This is an important long-term workforce development initiative to ensure the district attracts, trains and retains our workforce,” Mr Arnold said.
“The program also allows us to generate regional economic benefits when it comes to providing youth employment and caring for the health of our community well into the future.”
Among the participants is Wyong High School student Josef Graf, 16, who is looking forward to completing a Certificate III in Allied Health over the next two years.
“I was starting to think about what I wanted to do after school and a friend recommended the School-Based Traineeship program,” Josef said.
“I was originally looking at a career in finance, but decided on allied health after learning about the SBT program and the practical, hands-on experience it offers.”
Josef said the program would give him a good introduction to allied health and provide an opportunity to explore a more specialised area once he graduates.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Central Coast Health staff and gaining a valuable insight into allied health while making a difference in my community,” he said.
Now in its fifth year, the SBT program enrolment numbers have grown steadily each year since the original intake of five students in 2014.
The program first began with the aim of creating more employment and career development opportunities for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Since that time the program now encourages non-Aboriginal participants to apply, while retaining its core purpose of creating priority employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students for placements.
“Over the past several years participating students gained hands-on experience in various roles within the district from our operating theatres to workforce customer service and many have gone on to secure permanent employment in these areas,” Mr Arnold said.
“The program continues to expand each year and create more exciting career paths for students who may be planning a future in health.”
The trainees will work at least one day a week over the next two years under the supervision of district staff and receive an income while learning new skills in the health sector.
A spokesperson for TAFE NSW said the program also involved theory-based learning at a local TAFE campus.
At the end of the traineeship students receive their high school certificate and a nationally recognised Certificate III qualification, while being supported to access further career opportunities within Central Coast Local Health District.
“This exciting partnership between TAFE NSW and the District promotes Vocational Education and Training (VET) career pathways to industry, schools and the community as a fantastic choice for a great career,” a TAFE NSW spokesperson said.