The City of Whittlesea’s parks and gardens maintenance provider, Citywide, has partnered with the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) in an effort to create employment opportunities and work experiences for people with intellectual and learning disabilities.
Coinciding with the start of the tree planting season, more than half a dozen NMIT students will assist Citywide staff with planting 18,000 new trees, plants and shrubs throughout the Whittlesea municipality.
Primarily aimed at aiding TAFE students undertaking a Certificate 1 in Work Education, the one week program provides post-school students (16 years and above) with a pathway for future employment opportunities and / or further educational studies.
Formally established two years ago, the initiative has derived multiple benefits for the NMIT students. Not only are the students provided with a setting to contribute in a team environment, they’re also given a physical outlet to develop their skill sets, as well as participate in a project which will provide a sense of pride, achievement and accomplishment.
Commenting on the benefits of the program, Gabby Reardon, NMIT’s Practical Placement Coordinator, said, “Partnering with industry to deliver placements for students benefits all stakeholders. Practical placement creates a supportive training environment and assists participants to gain employability skills, improve confidence, learn about the world of work, and link training with future employment.”
Simon Potter, Citywide’s Horticultural Team Leader based at Whittlesea whom instigated the program, commended the merit of the initiative by saying, “Through partnering with NMIT and the Work Education Centre, we have been able to work collaboratively in developing and implementing a local sustainable program that will provide students with the opportunity to develop and acquire skill sets not normally found within a classroom setting.”
“This program fits with our focus and commitment to support community programs which caters for special needs in a diverse and inclusive environment. We believe that by assisting in education and training we can help these students develop strong awareness for environmental issues, as well as aid equitable social development,” said Simon.