Experiential learning for independent living

Knowledge is experience. Everything else is just information. – Einstein

At NOVA Transition, we focus a lot on learning experientially – through doing, rather than by reading or watching. It’s a great way to build up our skills and confidence so we’re ready to get a job. But experiential learning is also really important to prepare ourselves for living independently.

At Caringbah and Engadine NOVA Transition, we learn how to

  • cook for ourselves
  • get around on public transport
  • be wise with money.

Getting the heads up on mental health

Award-winning singer-songwriter Lucy Neville, 21, has experienced the stigma and discrimination associated with having a mental illness.

But the Beyond Blue volunteer guest speaker had some positive messages about dealing with anxiety when she visited Windsor NOVA Transition recently.

Anxiety had been part of Lucy’s life from the age of 13. She would assume the worst of every situation. She would avoid social situations, and was often crippled with feelings of paranoia and panic if forced to catch public transport or meet new people.

Making small talk

Being able to make conversation with others at work – whether they’re your colleagues or your customers – is important for finding and keeping a job. Here at NOVA Transition Penrith, we regularly practise our communication skills as we work towards becoming job-ready.

Making small talk comes more naturally to some people than others. The good news is that it’s something that you can get better at with practice.

So what exactly is small talk and why is it so important?

Industry visits: more than meets the eye

When you have a job that matches your skills and interests, you’re more likely to do it well, to enjoy it, and to keep it. It’s a win-win situation for you and your employer.

But how do you know what jobs you like and are good at? Finding out about our trainees’ interests and skills is one of our key strategies here at NOVA Transition.

That’s why industry visits are such an important part of our program. Visiting a local workplace gives trainees an insight into what it would be like to work there – and to get a sense of whether they would enjoy it.

But there are other benefits of an industry visit as well – as this story shows.

Learning experientially

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember. I do and I understand – Confucius

We learn experientially at NOVA Transition. Do you know what this means? At Caringbah and Engadine outlets we do! Learning by doing (instead of by reading or watching) is an important part of our training for Certificate 1 in Work Education at NOVA Transition. Not only is it a good learning strategy; it also gives us experience, which helps with getting a job.

Why I come to NOVA Transition

If you're going to spend three days per week for two years at NOVA Transition, you want it to be worthwhile, right? 

It certainly has been for the many former trainees who are now employed – read some of their stories here

For Danika, a trainee at Rockdale NOVA Transition, there are plenty of reasons to show up each day: 

'I come to NOVA Transition because there are people who help and support me on my journey to find a job I’m interested in.

How is Transition different from school? Part 2

Trainees from St Marys and Campbelltown NOVA Transition outlets have been pondering the differences between school and life at NOVA Transition. You can read St Marys' take on the subject here. Meanwhile enjoy Campbelltown trainees' creative approach:

A day in a life: Transition (versus school)

No glitter or crayons, assignments or tests
No Sir, Madams or Miss
No hands up or late notes
No bullies or cool kids.

How is Transition different from school?

After finishing year 12, young people with disability can go on to a two-year program with NOVA Transition.

So is Transition an extension of school? Trainees from St Marys and Campbelltown NOVA Transition outlets have been pondering the differences. And they’ve taken very different approaches to explaining what they came up with!

St Marys

School is for all children who start when they are five years old, finishing year 12 by age 18. In school we learn reading, writing, respect and discipline.

Another happy parent

Imagine being the parent of three taxpayers.

Kathy Sammut never imagined this would be her life. She recalls that when her children, Anthony, Michelle and Matthew, finished school, she and her husband would say, ‘They’re going to be home all the time, and they’re not going to see the world out there’.

But all three have found work through NOVA Transition Liverpool.

Focus on Ability Film Festival 2017

NOVA Employment’s Focus on Ability Short Film Festival 2017 is almost upon us. It’s been called ‘the most inclusive film festival in the world’ and we love it.

Inclusive because of its theme, because it’s open to everybody, and because there are no entry fees. Plus there are so many ways you can participate: by making films, watching them online (and voting for your favourites), or organising a festival event or screening in your community.

So here’s a timely reminder: entries close on 30 June. Your film must be no longer than five minutes (not including credits) and must be about the ability of people with a disability. We’ll upload all eligible entries to the website on 25 July, and voting will then be open until 7 August.

Let's get working

Let’s be honest: there’s a lot to getting a job. Before you can walk in that door as an employee, you’ll need to:

  • figure out what sort of job will suit you
  • get some training (unless you are already able to do the job)
  • apply for positions – this might be by:
    • responding to an advertisement
    • talking with people about what work they have available
  • write resumes and cover letters
  • convince an interviewer that you’re the person for the job.

Phew! It can be a tough gig. NOVA Transition is here to support you along the path to employment. A valuable resource is NOVA Employment’s Let’s Get Working website, which is packed with practical tips and advice for job seekers.

Catching up on bus business

What better way to learn about travelling by public transport than to take the train to the bus depot?

That was the mission of the Windsor Wolves on a recent excursion. Being able to use public transport is an important skill that we practise at Windsor NOVA Transition: it enables us to travel independently to work.

But we decided to go one step further and find out all about buses, the bus industry and what it's like to be a bus driver. So we headed to Windsor Busways Depot to meet Ian, the Manager, and Senior Bus Driver Chris.

Finding a great disability employment service

A disability employment service is there to help you get a job. But are you happy with just any old job? Do you want a job doing something you like? Do you want to work somewhere that you feel valued? Do you want to work as many hours as you are able to?

Different employment services take different approaches to supporting people with a disability. Some will find you a job – any job – as quickly as possible, even if it’s not the right sort of job for you. 

Others will work with you to find out your interests and skills. They will look for jobs that match your needs and the hours you want to work. We know that you are much more likely to find a job that’s right for you with this second approach. And you’re more likely to stay in the job.

So how can you tell which employment service to sign up with?

Hands-on learning at Westmead Hospital

“The best industry visit ever!” was how trainee’s at Penrith NOVA Transition described a recent visit to the cardio unit at Westmead Hospital.

Here at Nova, we believe that experiential learning is critical to our trainees’ success in progressing to employment. It’s a philosophy shared by Tony, a technical officer in the cardio unit, who had some awesome activities for us.

Tony works with electronics and metal in his workshop to make pieces of equipment used in heart surgery. We were expecting him to give us a tour of the vet hospital and show how his work helps the medical staff perform procedures.

Industry visit has Rouse Hill trainees blooming

It was all roses for the Rouse Hill NOVA Transition trainees on a recent industry visit to Flowers for Everyone in the Rouse Hill Town Centre.

Industry visits are just one of the ways that NOVA trainees learn about what's really involved in the world of work. Now we have a much better understanding about careers in floristry – and whether or not that's something we are interested in.

The Manager, Rebecca, and staff member Elizabeth were wonderful and taught us so much about the art of floristry and becoming a florist, as well as budgeting and business.

Camden trainees visit the Sydney Opera House

Last week, our Camden office went on an industry visit to the Sydney Opera House. Here is what one of our trainees, Naomi had to say about the experience:

Let's cook! Life in a commercial kitchen

Getting to know more about the industries we might work in is really important for NOVA Transition trainees. We enjoy having guest speakers from our local area to talk about what happens in their workplace.

At NOVA Windsor we have such a great space and love to share it with other outlets so in February we invited the Rouse Hill and Richmond trainees over to join us in hosting our guest speaker Tracy Housten from Pepe’s Ducks.

Tracy is a chef by trade and has been in food industry for 32 years. She is currently Product and Development Manager for Pepe’s Ducks here in South Windsor. 

Managing money: a valuable industry visit

At NOVA Transition, we learn about life skills as well as workplace issues. The Rouse Hill group made an industry visit to Suncorp Bank Parramatta, for a session on managing money throughout life.

First of all, though, we worked out how to get to Parramatta Westfield and what bus we needed to catch. Then the Suncorp Bank did a presentation to teach us about managing our money.

We learned about setting goals and how to tell the difference between needs and wants. For example, you need a drivers licence for your job; you might want a nice car, but you don’t need it for your job.

Budgeting is important to make sure we spend our money on the right things. Some ideas to help us save money were:

  • not eating out too often
  • having coffee at home
  • catching public transport instead of driving.

Why is initiative important in the workplace?

‘Use your initiative!’

‘Show some initiative … ’

We know employers love employees with initiative, but what does it mean? Well Windsor NOVA Transition has found out and is putting it into practice both in and out of the training room! 

Initiative generally means to do what needs to be done without having to be asked, even if it is not your job. For example, you may not the office cleaner, but if you saw a piece of paper on the floor would you pick it up? If you answer ‘yes’ then you are using your initiative.

Not just a job, an achievable, realistic, sustainable, suitable career

NOVA Transition Liverpool has some bright new stars this year with the drive and ambition to go out and get not just a job but create an achievable, realistic, sustainable, suitable career!

Already in 2017, the first-year trainees have expanded their knowledge and gained confidence to go out into the workforce. We’re learning how to achieve our goals!

So, how do we achieve our goals?

At Nova Transition the job coaches help us gain skills during work experience, for example retail, administration and hospitality; however, we also do work experience in warehousing, trades and care work. When we go to work experience the employer expects us to follow their instructions when doing a task. All trainees must follow safety guidelines and report all hazards to their supervisor.

After work experience we receive employer feedback reports, using the feedback to improve our resumes and add the employer as a referee.

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