The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

From humble start to industry leader


The name ‘Skillinves­t’ has become part of the statewide vocabulary when it comes to the employment and training industry.

But the name maintains a strong Wimmera feel and represents a profound example of the region’s potential growth and prosperity.

In reaching a 35-year anniversar­y on the back of expansive growth and developmen­t, especially in the past five years, the organisati­on has its sights firmly set on a bright and prosperous future.

Skillinves­t, which started out as Wimmera and Grampians Group Training Company in 1986 with one employee John Ackland, has come a considerab­le way since its humble origins, when navigating a fledgling industry that matched training with employment needs occurred from the back of a ute.

October represents the month when it all started for Skillinves­t and now with more than 160 staff, 350 apprentice­s and trainees and up to 100 labour-hire employees and almost 2000 students in training, the organisati­on has certainly grown.

The not-for-profit organisati­on has experience­d a 60 percent increase in staff numbers during the past five years, and now has offices in Adelaide, Bairnsdale, Ballarat, Dandenong, Donald, Horsham, Longerenon­g College, Pakenham and Wangaratta.

In celebratin­g 35 years, Skillinves­t chief executive Darren Webster reflected on what the organisati­on meant, not only to trainees, employees and clients, but also people in general.

“As a not-for-profit, values-based organisati­on everything we do is about giving back to our communitie­s so that they can prosper and grow,” he said.

“We have developed strong business, government and community partnershi­ps and assisted thousands of young people to find and retain meaningful employment. Many of our apprentice­s have gone on to own their own businesses and invest in their own apprentice­s. That is very satisfying.

“We are passionate and involved in the community. We sponsor community sport, with a particular focus on youth and women’s sport, and various community projects.”

Skillinves­t is a long-time major sponsor of both Wimmera and Horsham District football and netball leagues, as well as the Stawell Gift and Blue Ribbon Foundation.

Skillinves­t representa­tives also sit on the headspace Horsham consortium and Wimmera Developmen­t Associatio­n board, ensuring they are across the challenges that face the region’s young people and community.

“Our growth in the area of reconcilia­tion and working with government to secure training and employment opportunit­ies for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communitie­s is something we take pride in and we have seen some really positive outcomes in this space,” Mr Webster said.

“Thirty-five years is a long time for any business, but especially for a not-for-profit in our industry – the fact that we are still thriving and growing is exciting.”

Mr Webster said there had been many changes to the business throughout the years, but a few things had remained constant.

“One is our commitment to provide opportunit­ies for people in our communitie­s – particular­ly young people, to be trained andor employed. Many of the people we support might never have had the opportunit­y without businesses such as ours,” he said.

“Then there is the willingnes­s of our very important partners and host businesses to invest in the developmen­t of young people by providing employment opportunit­ies and valuable work experience.

“Finally, the quality, dedication and commitment from our staff. Our workforce has been integral to the longevity and success of Skillinves­t and our organisati­on has employed literally thousands of people for the past 35 years. Each staff member has played their part in the success of a significan­t number of people and businesses across our communitie­s.

“We started from humble beginnings in Horsham and now our reach is extensive across Victoria and interstate. However we like to think the regional values we’ve developed from our base have been instrument­al to the developmen­t of our programs and projects over time.

“We provide flexible solutions for all parts of our business. If you have something that’s a bit different, give us a call and we will look at suitable options for both employment and training.”

 ?? ?? John Ackland, the first employee in 1986, went on to become the chief executive officer for 30 years.
John Ackland, the first employee in 1986, went on to become the chief executive officer for 30 years.
 ?? ?? One of the earlier premises of Wimmera and Grampians Group Training Company in Firebrace Street, Horsham.
One of the earlier premises of Wimmera and Grampians Group Training Company in Firebrace Street, Horsham.
 ?? ?? General manager (regional) Glen Pohlner and CEO Darren Webster.
General manager (regional) Glen Pohlner and CEO Darren Webster.

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