Matching skill needs in rural areas

One of the intractable problems of unemployment is the inability of many unemployed people to match the skills required in their local area. The imbalance is usually harder to redress in rural areas where study options are also more limited.

Victoria's Shire of Campaspe has found a way to match skill requirements in a previously difficult area, childcare. With the assistance of the University of Ballarat, five of the Shire's untrained childcare workers have enrolled in off campus studies. This enables them to continue working and gaining practical experience while studying for their Diploma of Community Services (Childcare).

General Manager Community and Culture Jean Andrews said the flexibility of off campus study enables rural women to avoid costly and time consuming travel in order to gain qualifications. "While the five students will be required to attend several weekend study sessions, several tutorials will be held at the Echuca childcare centre where they work," Jean Andrews said.

The University approached the Shire when it became aware of the shortage of qualified child care workers in the region. Staff involved believe the flexibility and support of the Shire has encouraged them to strive for higher goals in their chosen field.

At the same time, this reduces the problems the Shire has, particularly in filling casual or relief positions. "Furthermore, it is important in ensuring quality care and a better quality of care for our children," Jean Andrews said.

For further information contact Jean Andrews, telephone (03) 5481 2200