Empowering your existing employees

Nick Chapman

Finding skilled staff to work in the tourism industry is the single biggest issue facing Australia’s booming visitor economy. The latest statistics paint a worrying picture, particularly in Victoria, where tourism businesses reportedly are short of 35,000 workers at all levels. In the face of critical skills shortages, what should businesses do when they need staff, particularly in the critical areas of marketing and frontline leadership?

The answer is to empower existing staff with new skills.

In a pilot project with Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill, Monarch Insitute is giving employees the chance to gain new management skills and accredited qualifications, without leaving their homes in regional Victoria. Employees at the award-winning tourism attraction are enrolling in Monarch’s online leadership and management courses.

The pilot is proving to be a great success. It shows how vocational training gives tourism businesses a powerful, sustainable alternative to outsourcing, consulting, or hiring new staff. For a regional tourism operator like Sovereign Hill, online education is a game- changer because it provides relevant training and education without forcing staff to travel to the city, which is a major drain on resources and time.

For Gillian Armstrong, a site manager at Sovereign Hill’s Narmbool property, studying with Monarch Institute has offered a huge opportunity for career growth.

Gillian had attended various leadership programs in recent years, but Monarch’s Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management gave her the chance to earn solid academic qualifications for the first time.

‘I honestly thought I had no more time left in the week to take on anything new, Gillian said. ‘But Monarch has structured the course in a way that’s easy to follow where you set the pace. Being online, I can fit it into my busy life outside of mainstream hours.’

‘Support is only an email or phone call away, and the response time to questions or issues is very quick.’

Sovereign Hill’s employees get the opportunity to upskill and gain qualifications, while the business itself retains key staff by encouraging career development, and builds the skills base it needs to grow as a tourism business. Students want to engage with learning when and where it suits them.

Education is no longer reliant on a classroom or lecture theatre. Today, students decide how they want to study. Online learning is one of the greatest revolutions in modern education. More than 100,000 Australian students study online, many of them thousands of kilometres away from their teacher or trainer. They can switch from video lectures to text to multimedia in seconds. And they can reach out to their trainers and other students online when they need. Accessibility to support is a key pillar of the revolution.

With a computer and internet access, students can now learn from the comfort of their couch, removing geographic limitations and importantly offering those in employment a flexible means to attain additional skills.

The way students learn online now means they are never alone. Courses are designed so that they are regularly engaging with the trainer, providing assessments via video presentations, talking to each other in forums, and often meeting up in study groups across the country. The way online learning platforms are designed allows students to study in their own time, at their own pace. When our students work full time, or parent young children, our flexible learning can suit any situation.

Monarch Institute has been offering blended online learning for nine years, training more than 10,000 students across Australia in a range of courses. This recent pilot program with Sovereign Hill follows a series of successful collaborations with industry associations, universities, top accounting firms and franchise groups.

These innovative partnerships keep Monarch’s programs focused on delivering flexible, demand-driven skills that employers and employees crave.

Nick Chapman is the Chief Executive Officer at Monarch Institute.

For more information on courses or partnerships call 1300 738 955 or visit www.monarch.edu.au