Melbourne Polytechnic - Work Education Centre

Next Steps program

The Melbourne Polytechnic (formerly Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) Work Education Centre was established in 1977. It provides practical training and experience in work preparation or community participation for students with disabilities or individual learning needs. 

Melbourne PolytechnicThese students often learn best through a combination of traditional teaching and hands-on training. With an emphasis on ‘learning through doing’ the Work Education Centre aims to equip students with independent life skills, entry-level work opportunities, and pathways into further education and training.

The LUCRF Super Community Program funded the development of the Next Steps program that provided students with intensive mentoring and support to successfully make the move from education to employment. In order to help disabled and special needs students to not only obtain but maintain employment, the program had to develop strong partnerships within the community. 

As part of Next Steps, a highly skilled social inclusion officer was employed to work closely with students selected by teachers as candidates for specialist intervention. The aim was to mentor them to become active participants in the community and to help them realise their hopes and aspirations. This helped facilitate their smooth exit from the program, their re-engagement with the community and their transition into employment, volunteering, sport and/or recreation. 

The Work Education Centre continues to provide social support services to students and their families, facilitating employment opportunities and encouraging social inclusion and community participation.

Andrew’s story

Andrew is 21. He’s an honest, well-presented, friendly individual who is quiet but has slowly been coming out of his shell. Andrew has an intellectual disability; he has difficulty maintaining tasks without supervision and is self-conscious of his own speech, often having difficulty being heard. 

After working closely with the Next Steps social inclusion officer, Andrew successfully completed three practical work placements in 2014, including stock work with a manufacturer and large retailer, and gardening work with a landscaping company. The feedback on Andrew’s work was very positive. He has since made enquiries to enrol in a Certificate II in Landscaping. Andrew would like to find paid employment and continues to work hard towards this goal. 

Andrew has also joined a social group in his local area that meets once a week, and is enjoying learning to play the drums. He has met new people and continues to build on his social skills, self-confidence and vocalisation.

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