Pilot program makes it work

The ‘Make it Work: Sharing Workers Locally Program’ started out as an experimental collaboration between Narrabri Shire Council and a number of industry partners, in an effort to retain skilled workers in the region.

The Program now boasts a 100 percent success rate in participants sustaining full-time employment within the Narrabri Shire and has attracted nationwide interest — impressive results for an initiative in its pilot year.

Tailored to the needs of the local labour market, the ‘Make it Work: Sharing Workers Locally Program’ aims to retain workers in the Narrabri region by creating a flexible and multi-skilled workforce.

The initiative allows local workers to be trained and employed through Narrabri Shire Council until they find work with host employers, who provide them with on-the-job training and networking opportunities.

Narrabri Shire Council’s Human Resources Officer Grace Farrer said that one of the challenges Council and other local businesses faced, particularly those operating on a seasonal basis, was ensuring they had adequately skilled workers where and when they needed them.

“Workers in seasonal industries face a similar problem in finding year-round work,” she said.

“The program aims to address both these needs by coordinating seasonal labour for host employers when it is needed and by integrating workers into Council’s workforce during seasonal employment lows, providing workers in the program with employment throughout the year.”

The program has been a combined effort of the Narrabri Shire Council, the Make it Work Group (which developed the initiative and approached Council to run the program), AgriFood Skills Australia, Dusseldorp Skills Forum and Tocal College. The program was open to all interested host employers and workers.

Participants in the pilot year successfully completed a Certificate III in Rural Operations, gaining skills and experience in tractor maintenance and operation, forklift and backhoe/loader operation, chainsaw operation, chemical application, traffic control, workplace health and safety and basic first aid.