Coffs Coast Community College running Retail and Hospitality training for people from refugee and migrant backgrounds

Students Kap Lian Mang and Ah Hua in the kitchen with trainer Kellie Botham. Photo: Donna Hunt.


COFFS Coast Community College is calling out to local retail and hospitality businesses to support students from culturally diverse backgrounds by providing opportunities for mentoring and work experience.

The College is currently running an innovative Retail and Hospitality training program engaging people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to assist them in overcoming barriers to employment.

Through funding from the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs under the Fostering Integration Grants Program, the course supports participants to complete accredited training, while building upon their Australian workplace knowledge, understanding and language skills.

Despite strong motivations and talents, finding a job can be tough when you come from a migrant background.

Often previous skills and overseas employment are not recognised and initial Australian work experience can be difficult to obtain.

Coupled with this may be anxieties around “how good my English is” and not having access to professional networks.

These are feelings shared by many people, especially our new arrival communities.

The course, which commenced in August this year, has received a fantastic response, with 30 eager men and women from Myanmar, Iraq, Ethiopia, Thailand, Burundi and El Salvador involved.

The majority of students have prior experience working in, or managing their own shops, cafes and restaurants – either in their home countries or the countries where they lived as refugees.

Therefore, they make excellent candidates for future work in both industries, especially in the lead up to the busy Christmas period.

Students have already completed their safe food handling certificates and received some great insights from Tigi Teressa of the popular local Ethiopian restaurant – Mana Chita.

This term will see them delve into workplace health and safety and coffee making, while honing their customer service and point of sale skills.

A key feature of the course is the practical component, involving regular role plays, simulated activities, site visits and opportunities for students to be linked to mentors and work experience.

At the end of the program (in early December 2020), students will also open a cultural café and shop to showcase their cumulative skills, with members of the local community invited to attend.

If you are a local business interested in supporting one or more of the College students via mentoring and work experience, or members of the community who are keen to attend the end of program event, please contact Sally Pannifex (Project Coordinator) on mobile: 0499070734 or email: [email protected] for more information.

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