CEDA member profile: Workskil Australia



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Nicole Dwyer, Chief Executive Officer, Workskil Australia

Please tell us about Workskil Australia.  

Workskil Australia is a not-for-profit and charitable organisation committed to transforming people’s lives through employment, Indigenous, youth, community and disability services. It has a network of 69 sites in South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Western Australia and a workforce of more than 700 – making it one of the country’s largest employment service providers. In 2017–18 Workskil Australia partnered with 14,800 employers across numerous industry sectors, placing 1300 people into employment every month.

What do you think is unique about Workskil Australia? 

We’ve worked extremely hard over many years to earn a reputation as a high-quality provider and leader within our industry. 

Unlike other private employment services operators, Workskil Australia is a not-for-profit and charitable organisation. Our staff are well qualified and genuinely care about helping jobseekers and employers. We want to make a real difference in the lives of people and we’re proud of our track record in doing so.

Where do you hope to see the organisation five years from now? 

I would like to see Workskil Australia continue to grow its national presence and diversify our range of employment and employment-related services. Ultimately, we want to continue building on our reputation as leading the field in helping Australians in difficulty, disadvantage or with disability find and keep a decent job.

What is your role in the company? What responsibilities do you have? 

As Chief Executive Officer I am responsible for setting the strategic direction for our growing national organisation and ensuring we remain true to our values of honesty and integrity in everything we do. My role is also quite hands-on and includes a focus on policy, business development, overall operations, government relations, industry advocacy and thought leadership.

How long have you been with the organisation? How has it changed in that time? 

I first became involved with Workskil Australia in 1995. I joined on the frontline as an employment consultant before later becoming General Manager, a position I held until 2003 when I took up a role with KPMG where I later became an Associate Director. I returned to Workskil as CEO in 2012. The organisation has evolved and matured significantly over this time, expanding across states, increasing our workforce and diversifying our offering, particularly within specialist areas including Indigenous, youth, community and disability services.

What does a typical work day look like? 

Not one day is the same. 

My schedule may include meeting with government and industry representatives in Canberra one day to sitting down with frontline staff at our contact centre in Adelaide or discussing workforce solutions with a national employer the next. 

With more than 700 staff located in 69 sites across Australia, I also schedule at least one visit to every office during the year.

What do you love about your job? 

I love being in an organisation that has such a positive impact on people’s lives. 

I’m extremely proud of our dedicated national team and the outcomes we generate for our job seeking customers, employers, the broader community and economy. 

The passion and genuine care of our staff is inspiring while the dynamic nature of our work is invigorating. 

There’s nothing better than connecting an employer with a new employee who has struggled to find work in the past for a variety of reasons. It’s a result that greatly benefits both parties and also provides enormous personal satisfaction to our staff.

Workskil has been a state member of CEDA in South Australia previously.
Why did the company choose to become a national member?  

We are a growing national organisation with our head office in South Australia but an increasing presence in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales so it made sense to become a national member. We are increasingly engaging with national employers and we see our involvement with CEDA as an ideal way to contribute to the national debate on key community and employment-related initiatives.

Is there a particular CEDA report or event that has resonated with you and why? 

In October (2018) Workskil Australia sponsored the Women’s Economic Security event in Melbourne. The keynote speaker was the Hon. Kelly O’Dwyer who is the Federal Minister for Women and Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations. This was an event and topic very close to our hearts as Workskil Australia assists a large number of disadvantaged women to enter or re-enter the workforce every year.

What are you most looking forward to in your engagement with CEDA in the future? 

In recent years we’ve seen greater recognition of under-represented community groups within public economic debate. I look forward to CEDA continuing to play a key role in driving debate and understanding on critical labour market issues such as Indigenous employment, disability, youth and the increasing challenges around underemployment, particularly among the disadvantaged. As an organisation heavily involved in these areas, Workskil Australia is well placed to contribute and provide insight.