Robert Oatley College on Hamilton Island has been officially opened in a special ceremony attended by newly elected Whitsundays MP Jason Costigan, Founder Robert Oatley, Hamilton Island Enterprises (HIE) Chairman Sandy Oatley, and HIE CEO Glenn Bourke.
In front of 50 guests including students and members of HIE’s Learning and Development team, Robert Oatley officially opened the new college, a registered training organisation (RTO), which provides Hamilton Island employees with nationally accredited training.
The last several years have seen HIE design and deliver its accredited staff training through its partnership with Sunshine Coast TAFE, who issued the qualifications. However, as part of its quest to become Australia’s leading employer of choice, HIE made the conscious decision to further invest and operate its own independent college.
Robert Oatley College was formally approved by the Department of Education and Training to operate as a ‘Registered Training Organisation’ in January 2012, which means it can enrol students and issue qualifications just like any other TAFE or Hospitality School in the country.
Robert Oatley College founder and Hamilton Island owner, Bob Oatley, said: “I’m extremely proud that our small community now has a college that offers our staff an opportunity for self improvement and career development.
“A lot of our employee training will take place on the job, as we want our staff to have a combination of hands-on and class room education. We want practical people who can apply these lessons to their work place, making us smarter at our business.”
HIE CEO Glenn Bourke said: “HIE is a dedicated employer of the Australian workforce, and the Robert Oatley College is a significant step in our commitment to further developing the tourism and hospitality sector by providing and promoting quality career paths for our employees.
“We need engaged, enthusiastic and skilled people on our team – people with real drive and dedication to delivering best-in-class, authentic Australian holidays.
“As a result of our renewed focus on our people and commitment to offering ‘careers’ rather than just ‘jobs’, we have seen an improvement in our employee retention; 97 per cent of our employees are on permanent full-time contracts and we have just over 1000 employees,” he said.
In the last three years alone, 2000 HIE employees have benefited from training delivered by the HIE Learning and Development team, including over 350 employees who have received nationally accredited qualifications.
This year HIE expects to train over 1000 staff members at the Robert Oatley College, including 200 employees who will complete nationally accredited qualifications.
Overall, HIE expects to graduate more Certificate III Hospitality students than the local Whitsunday TAFE and most other TAFE’s around Australia.
Always striving for enhancements, HIE is aiming in the near future to incorporate additional online elements into its training, including currently exploring how mobile devices can be used as a delivery mechanism.
In addition, investment has been made over the last three years to enhance HIE’s recruitment programs so its people are better selected. In the last ten years, this has led to an increase in retention of employees staying with the company for longer than five years by 280 per cent.