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Empowering Communities by Skill Building Training Programs

In the modern world, skill development is crucial as it enables individuals to acquire the practical abilities and knowledge required to excel in their chosen field and grab better employment opportunities within a short span of learning the respective skill. In many cases, possessing specific skills can be more beneficial than having a higher tertiary degree, as employers often prioritize practical skills and experience over academic qualifications.

This is particularly true when it comes to the industries such as technology, finance, hospitality and healthcare, where specialized skills and certifications are highly valued. In countries like India and Australia, skill development has proven to be critical due to their respective rapidly growing economies and changing job markets. Synergies are evolving due to a shared understanding of challenges that can provide opportunities for cross-country models of skilling.

India has now become the world’s most populous country in the world, with a large workforce that is competing in a global job market. It has one of the highest numbers of working youth population globally. Though a large proportion of the Indian population is highly skeptical about relying on skill development programs for attaining career opportunities, it continues to provide a competitive edge to a wider population of job seekers by making them more attractive to domestic and international employers.

Australia is a developed economy with a high standard of living and a well-educated workforce. However, the Australian job market is also becoming more competitive, particularly in industries such as healthcare, technology, and construction. While pursuing a higher degree may provide individuals with valuable knowledge and expertise, it is noteworthy to mention that practical skills and experience are also highly valued by employers, particularly in rapidly evolving job markets.

A higher degree can certainly be helpful in some fields, but it may not always be necessary due to the many obstacles – not least of which is the financial burden of attaining a tertiary qualification or the lack of motivation to pursue one. Beyond that, some employers may prefer candidates with a mix of both academic credentials with embedded practical skills.

Therefore, investing in skill development can be a wise choice for individuals in India, Australia, and other countries looking to stay competitive in their respective economies. Acknowledging this scenario, the Indian, as well as Australian governments, have joined hands to equip their populations with new-age industry specific skills that could improve their livelihoods and create better prospects.

In view of this, REACH for Training (REACH) has created waves of change in the way people perceive this topic. REACH is an establishment delivering Skills Training to learners across Australia. It is highly focused on providing skill development and training programs to underprivileged and marginalised individuals in India as well as Australia.

Under the leadership of Suresh Padmanabhan, a strong advocate for skills training who acquired the company with a vision to create a positive impact at the grassroots level, REACH has been able to make a significant difference in the lives of many individuals. Through its various programs and initiatives, REACH aims to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers by empowering individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their chosen fields.

The company offers a wide range of training courses, including soft skills and industry specific vocational training. In this narrative, we have highlighted the excerpts of the conversation held with the CEO, Suresh Padmanabhan, who takes immense pride in being able to add value to people’s lives at the ground level. We firmly believe that our global aficionado would be able to draw motivation from the success story of REACH and get valuable nuggets of wisdom from the views shared by the CEO.

Company Overview

REACH is a community-based Registered Training Organisation with a clear objective of improving individuals’ lives and enabling learners to contribute positively to the community. The organisation strives to promote engagement by offering skill-building training programs, with a particular emphasis on youth living in rural India and disadvantaged communities in Australia. REACH is a commercial organisation with a community mindset in its approach to skills training.

To ensure that they provide adequate support to communities in both countries, they utilize their proven skills training framework from Australia and implement it in remote and rural areas in India, REACH through its Indian Subsidiary Australian Skill Development, works closely with local communities. The company’s primary goal is to offer high-quality education and training that could result in better job opportunities for all learners, including those who are long-term unemployed, refugees, persons with disabilities, or from disadvantaged groups.

One of the key areas where REACH has created an enormous impact is in helping refugees and survivors of civil war and new migrants in Australia gain jobs and career pathways. These individuals often face significant challenges in securing employment due to their lack of confidence and skills. However, with the seamless support and training provided by REACH, many have been able to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to secure better job opportunities and build their lives from scratch.

REACH also works closely with local communities and NGOs to identify and address the specific training needs of marginalized individuals, including women, youth, and people with disabilities. Through its outreach programs, Australian Skill Development has been able to provide training and support to thousands of individuals across Indian states including Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Bihar.

In addition, REACH is the leading provider of International Trainer and Assessor Course (TOT Training) developed by the Australian Government and accredited by NSDC, India for Indian Trainers undertaking competency-based skills training in India. Also, collaborating with British Council to train TOT for English and Soft Skills Training to our Trainers and Assessors to enhance their skills in conducting and assessing students in the respective training programs.

Owing to their persistent efforts, many individuals who would otherwise be left behind in the job market are now able to sit at highly reputed positions in various sectors that improved not only their own standard of living but also elevated the standard of living of their respective families.

“At REACH, our efforts and initiatives are all tied together by education, training, and job outcomes. Our focus is on empowering and supporting rural and disadvantaged communities in Australia and India, and we are committed to making a significant difference in their lives. We believe that investing in skills training and job creation for the youth is not only good for business, but it’s also a powerful way to uplift communities and create a more equitable future for all,”- Asserts Suresh.

Mission & methodology

As a mission-driven vocational skills training provider, REACH aims to improve the lives of individuals and communities through quality training and education leading to job outcomes. REACH’s core focus is to prepare a steady groundwork for a better future for learners who are identified as disadvantaged, long-term unemployed, single parents and those with disabilities or language barriers.

REACH begins by designing and developing courses through an extensive industry consultation process, allowing for the adaptation of course units to ensure better future employability and suitability of individuals. REACH also employs skilled, knowledgeable, and talented trainers and assessors who are industry-leading practitioners with extensive industry experience.

To ensure the employability of the learners, REACH’s trainers and assessors have current knowledge of the industry, which they extend to learners. REACH also has many industry connections and partnerships, enabling the institution to assist learners in finding employment upon completion of their training by providing wrap-around support services like job referrals, resume building, and interview preparation.

REACH’s traineeship and apprenticeship program allows employees working in the industry to undertake training whilst working, leading to career progression or enhanced professional development. The unique blended delivery mode supports learners who are working part-time in the industry and wish to undertake further training to enhance their skills and knowledge or for career progression.

Navigating challenges to emerge victorious

Despite challenges such as the pandemic, REACH has successfully met its goals and objectives through a number of impactful strategies. In the past 12 months, REACH has created numerous opportunities for talented professionals to better assist and support its learners, resulting in an increase in staffing numbers. REACH held daily stand-up team meetings to identify challenges and support needs and provide early intervention measures to address issues quickly.

The meetings also promoted transparency, recognized strong performance, and ensured alignment with REACH objectives. Every six months, strategy day meetings were held where the leadership team participated in strategic planning and goal setting, evaluated new ways of working and engaged with the learners. REACH also invested in new software and systems to build on existing opportunities, enhance productivity, and improve efficiency. The systems enabled staff to access information remotely and provided better visibility and tracking of enquiries, resulting in faster response times and a seamless learning journey.

The Leader’s Insights on the VET Ecosystem

Suresh shared his keen thoughts on how the VET ecosystem is different in Australia and India. He emphasized facilitating such an environment that could contribute and strategize as per the need of both countries accordingly. He elucidates that Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) system has evolved significantly over time and has faced and continues to face similar challenges as India’s VET system, albeit on a smaller scale.

The Australian VET system is led by the industry and caters to various age groups and demographics. It offers both initial education and training, as well as re-training, upskilling, and career change opportunities. VET can be delivered both in institutions and workplaces, and qualifications are nationally recognized. The current reform efforts in Australia aim to ensure quality provision and recognize the crucial role of industry in shaping a robust system that benefits both individuals and enterprises.

On the other hand, India faces a significant skills gap in terms of quality and quantity, with a training capacity of only 3.1 million people per year. The Modi government’s Skilling India concept envisions a rapid increase in India’s training capacity. However, achieving this ambitious goal will require “root and branch” changes to its VET sector, given the various challenges it faces, such as competing agencies and interests, a lack of infrastructure and up-to-date equipment, and a shortage of VET Trainers.

Suresh emphasized that “To achieve its skills ambitions, India must not only address the technical and resource issues but also create a brand awareness for the demand for highquality vocational training that is directly linked to the labour market and provides tangible benefits to individuals and employers.”

A glance at the laurels

Throughout its stellar journey, REACH has managed to grab the attention of well-acclaimed establishments at the global level. Hence, it has received numerous awards and accolades for its inimitable services in the Skills Training and Community welfare sector. A few of the worthy mentions are-

• In 2016, received a letter of appreciation from the Australian government for catalyzing the process of Australia’s skills development partnership with India.
• In 2016, the winner of “Small Business of the Year Award” IABCA AWARDS, Australia.
• In 2016, the winner of “Small Business of the Year Award” Indian Executive Club AWARDS, Australia.
• In 2019, the winner of the “VOCATIONAL STUDENT OF
• In 2019, was the finalist of the “EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION, TRAINING AND CAREERS” WSABE AWARDS, Australia.
• In 2022, the winner of “Community Services Excellence Award” IABCA AWARDS, Australia.

The parting words shared by the frontrunner

“Finally, there needs to be a change in minds et towards Vocational Education & Training. Both in Australia and in India, the stigma attached to Vocational Education & Training needs to change, and people need to recognize that Vocational Training provides career pathways with valuable skills that are in demand in the workforce today at a shorter time frame focusing on practical experience and job readiness at the end of the training program.

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