RDA Orana

May 2016

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RDA Orana’s training initiative provides Korean students with valuable work experience while helping local companies to diversify and grow their businesses. The initiative has also enhanced economic and cultural ties between the Orana region and Korea, demonstrating how international learning can strengthen bilateral relationships.

At just under 200,000 square kilometres in size, the Orana region in New South Wales’ central west is almost twice as large as South Korea. Despite its small population of 120,000, it contributes approximately A$7 billion annually in gross regional product to Australia’s economy.

The region’s major industries include mining, agriculture and government services such as education and health. Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana is one of 55 RDA committees across Australia comprising local leaders who collaborate on projects with governments, business and community groups to stimulate regional economic growth.

An innovative solution to an educational need

In 2014, RDA Orana met Professor Jae-Hoon Jung, President of the Queensland Korea Business Council, at a regional development conference. Professor Jung queried whether Australian businesses could provide the additional training and work experience that Korean vocational students needed to make them more employable.

The answer was yes: ‘When we approached the Orana business community, we discovered employers were more than willing to provide that training,’ says Georgia Fahey, Project Officer, RDA Orana. ‘They understood how the arrangement would benefit students, their business and the overall region in terms of building new economic and cultural ties.’

From this discussion, the Korean Trainee Project was born. It provides participants with an opportunity to undertake structured workplace-based training for up to two years, to enhance their skills in their current occupation, area of tertiary study or field of expertise.

‘Australian education is highly regarded in Korea, and the Korean Government sees this as a great opportunity for trainees to up-skill and continue their occupational training,’ says Fahey. ‘At the same time, the project meets the needs of employers and makes a valuable contribution to the regional economy and broader community.’

A collaborative approach

As the project’s facilitator, RDA Orana negotiated Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with government departments and training colleges, including the Human Resources Development Service of Korea, the Australian Council for Education and Culture in Korea and the International Ubiquitous Education Consortium in Australia.

RDA Orana garnered interest from regional businesses in the automotive, construction, food, hospitality, manufacturing and transport industries. Twenty businesses have signed up to the project as at May 2016. A few businesses also signed MoUs with Korean colleges, whereby the college will train and refer students to the business.

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