Veterans getting ahead with pilot program
A Flinders University pilot program is assisting military veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce with the help of academic pathways.
Led by Associate Professor Ben Wadham, Flinders University developed a one-of-a-kind program in Australia last year – the Military Academic Pathway Program (MAPP) – which incorporates international best practice in veterans’ academic pathways.
The pilot program helps veterans embrace new careers through re-training and upskilling through academic pathways.
“Our aim was to establish a veteran entry pathway that minimised the red tape people experience when leaving the Australian Defence Force and considering university as an option,” Professor Wadham said.
“Separation from the military is a challenging time for veterans and Flinders University is leading the way nationally in opening up study opportunities.
“We have found the program is helping them feel confident and prepared for university study.’’
Flinders University is part of the Naval Shipbuilding College’s national education and training network, which spans every state and territory in Australia.
Chief Executive of the College Ian Irving said veterans and their skills were highly valued within the naval shipbuilding industry.
“We regularly engage with veterans at events across the country to highlight the current and future career opportunities within naval shipbuilding and help develop education, skilling and professional pathways that can lead to employment within the industry.
The Flinders University MAPP program, launched on Remembrance Day in 2019, attracted 27 participants with 19 completing the course and 14 subsequently applying to the university in engineering, paramedics, international relations and psychology fields.
Key stakeholders in the project discussed the successful program at a symposium, including details on the new Australian Student Veterans Association established at Flinders University.
The Higher Education Pathways for Younger Veterans Symposium also explored the broader transitioning issues and the wellbeing of military, veterans and their families. Representatives of military, university and other government agencies attended, including Flinders alumna Air Vice-Marshal Dr Tracey Smart, Surgeon General of the Australian Defence Force.
“When someone leaves the military, they are seeking new opportunities and new direction,’’ she said.
“They acquire significant skills during their service, many of which are transferable, but do not know all the opportunities out there.”
Significantly, almost half of participants in the pilot program were younger veterans who had served in arms corps.
“We know there are key challenges younger veterans face if they want to study at university,’’ Professor Wadham said.
“There needs to be recognition of service skills and their value to university studies, bridging opportunities, and awareness of what pathways are available.’’
The project was funded by a Department of Veterans Affairs Supporting Younger Veterans (SYV) grant.
Please note: images contained in this article took place before COVID-19 social distancing restrictions were in place. The College is currently following whole-of-government guidance from the Department of Health in relation to COVID-19.