Fresh produce enterprise helps students transition into work
|Mitchell Murray from Terra Sancta College, Quakers Hill; Danika Buttigieg from Xavier College, Llandilo and Natalie Tannous from Delany College, Granville|
|Bianca Fry from Nagel College, Blacktown packs orders|
A new program has helped 14 students with special learning needs from schools across the Parramatta diocese to improve their business skills by enabling them to establish and run their own small enterprise, ‘Fruit & Vegies R Ur Friends’.
‘Fruit & Vegies R Ur Friends’ is part of the Produce Based Learning program run by the Catholic Education Office Parramatta’s Transition team. This team, based at the Angus Kavanagh Centre in Mt Druitt, is dedicated to developing students’ employability skills.
‘Workplaces are increasingly expecting their prospective employees to already have a variety of skills,’ said Bridget Ward, who coordinates the program. ‘We brought about the program because many of our students needed to develop these skills before they could successfully enter the workplace.’
As part of the business, students collect and fill orders from customers for bags of mixed fruit and vegetables, as well as cartons of fresh eggs. The students, who each take on a specific position within the business (e.g. quality controller, manager and secretary), learn various skills like quality control, customer service, accountancy, marketing and management.
‘Previously, students who were supervised in work experience placements were often confined to working in just one area of a business’ operation,’ Bridget said. ‘By participating in the Produce Based Learning program the students are exposed to a variety of elements which are key to the successful operation of a business.’
The students are required to complete activities typically seen in any business such as clocking on and off, participating in regular meetings and time management.
The flexibility of the program also helps the Transition team work closely with each student to develop their individual skills.
‘We have students with varying levels of skills and abilities. For example some students are great working with money but need extra assistance with social skills,’ said Bridget. ‘We can adapt the role and responsibilities of each student to develop different skills depending on their individual needs.’
’In addition, some of the students have also learnt how to get to the project independently via public transport.’
With the business soon to wind down for the term, the students are already looking at branching out their business.
‘Each week, the secretary of the group had to research a recipe to put into each of the customers’ bags,’ said Bridget. ‘We decided that we would use these recipes and others that the students bring in from home to put together into a cookbook.’
The students hope to publish the recipe book as part of their next enterprise.
Members of ‘Fruit & Vegies R Ur Friends’ and staff from the Transition team thank Riverview Produce, Richmond and Farm Fresh Eggs, Llandilo for providing high quality produce at a discount to the Produced Based Learning project.
View more photos from the Produce Based Learning Program
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