Following an inaugural program commencing in September 2021, SisterWorks, supported by partnering employment services provider, Jobfind, is gearing up to welcome its second cohort of women to the Hospitality Employment Pathways Program (HEPP).
Funded by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment through the Inner Metro Melbourne Local Recovery Fund, the HEPP aims to prepare 60 female participants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds for hospitality employment.
Driving the Local Jobs Plan* and chairing the Local Jobs and Skills Taskforce are the region’s Employment Facilitators, Melissa Kalemis and Carmel Veenstra. They describe the hospitality employment program as a mutually beneficial arrangement forged with SisterWorks, Jobfind, Imperial College and local employers: “They are all coordinating to provide much-needed support for migrant and asylum-seeking women to transition into the thriving hospitality industry in inner metropolitan Melbourne.”
Julia Bassani is Jobfind’s Regional Coordinator in inner metropolitan Melbourne. The area services a high proportion of job seekers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Julia was eager to partner with SisterWorks, a not-for-profit supporting women who are refugees, asylum seekers and migrants through work and entrepreneurship.
“Partnering with SisterWorks on the Hospitality Employment Pathways Program creates new pathways to hospitality employment for disadvantaged job seekers. We are completely aligned on the mission to support women with the skills and work experience they need to become economically empowered,” says Julia.
What is the Hospitality Employment Pathways Program?
SisterWorks designed the HEPP as a six-week pre-employment and practical skills training course aligned to meet the skill requirements of local hospitality employers.
Programs and Pathways Manager at SisterWorks, Michelle James, says there is a considerable shortage of staff to work in local cafés and restaurants, due in part to the loss of the international student workforce. “Our local hospitality employers tell us they need staff and want to hire straight away,” says Michelle.
While designed to be delivered as face-to-face group and individual sessions, the first cohort of job seekers showed great adaptability to participate online throughout the October 2021 lockdown period.
As part of the program, participants attain a Food Handling Certificate, a nationally recognised accreditation.
The qualification, delivered by Imperial College of Australia in Abbotsford, Victoria, is an ideal steppingstone into employment in the hospitality industry. Coupled with the work experience that Jobfind and Sisterworks facilitate with local employers, and the employability skills workshops and ongoing mentorship provided by SisterWorks, participants are well supported to explore local opportunities that can lead to an ongoing job.
Local employers are also invited to attend the workshops and meet with course participants, with three enthusiastic employers joining the first program.
On February 23, 2022, the next cohort of women will commence the Hospitality Employment Pathways Program covering:
- Food Handling Certificate Level 1
- Barista Training
- Adapting to the Australian work culture
- Resume writing
- Searching for jobs online
- Interview skills
- Talking to employers
- Planning to work
- 20 hours work experience or hire
- One-on-one mentoring by SisterWorks
Other employment services providers are invited to refer job seekers in the inner metro Melbourne area to the program.
Why build a career in hospitality?
“Hospitality is an amazing sector to build a career,” explains Michelle. “The parent-friendly hours and opportunities for advancement are positives for women. And in our inner metro Melbourne area, being bilingual is an asset.”
At Jobfind, Julia was able to offer the funded program to dozens of suitable job seekers: “It offers a great start in an exciting industry, and we have women with transferable skills from previous customer service experience, childcare and domestic duties.”
Suzana, a busy mother of four young children, decided to reskill and enrolled in the course, encouraged by her Employment Consultant, Roua Badawi, at Jobfind Richmond.
Suzana secured work within three weeks of completing the course. She said: “Working with Roua and SisterWorks has given me so much confidence now. I enjoy being around people, and the program allowed me to meet new people and network.”
Encouraging program outcomes
In October 2021, the entire cohort of 21 women attained Food Handling Certificates through the tailored course delivered online by Imperial College.
“We had 100% completion rate,” beams Michelle
The HEPP is tailored to meet the language and support needs of culturally and linguistically diverse women, and each intake is capped at around 20 participants to allow for individual attention. “And as a group, they encourage and support one another. It builds a network of support around each lady,” says Michelle.
Since completing the course in October 2021, seven women have been placed into employment, four more will undertake work experience via the National Work Experience Programme, one person is now planning her own small business by participating in the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme and two women are engaged in further study.
A great partnership: Jobfind and SisterWorks
Working together, Jobfind and SisterWorks were able to tap into their respective job seeker, community and employer networks to fill the course, create an engaging experience for participants, and help local employers with their workforce needs.
“Julia has been amazing, so supportive of the program,” says Michelle.
“Working with Michelle and SisterWorks has been great. We’ve used government and our own resources to generate fantastic outcomes for our job seekers and helped employers in need, too,” says Julia.
In Inner Metro Melbourne where the Hospitality Employment Pathways Program is offered, Jobfind has offices in Camberwell, Richmond, Cheltenham, Oakleigh, Coburg, Flemington and Melbourne. Job seekers are welcome to enquire about the program by contacting Julia on [email protected]
*The Local Jobs Program runs to 30 June 2025 in 51 regions throughout Australia. It brings together expertise, resources and access to funding at the local level to focus on reskilling, upskilling and employment pathways for people in each region. The program is part of supporting Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.