DDLS gifting The Smith Family and disadvantaged children’s education
DDLS has long been hailed as Australia’s leading and most trusted training provider in the fields of technology, process and people for over 25 years. One of the key reasons why the company has been able to achieve this status is through our strong commitment to our corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. For the last five years since 2012, DDLS has been a proud sponsor and partner of The Smith Family, a charitable organisation dedicated to children’s education by helping disadvantaged young Australians to succeed at school.
As the great Benjamin Franklin once quoted, “An investment in learning pays the best dividends”. DDLS has helped The Smith Family realise this investment in five different ways:
1. ICT Training Support
Every year, DDLS has been donating much-needed capacity-building support to The Smith Family, delivering training and certification needs to the value of $50,000 per annum. This in turn helps The Smith Family in its work to deliver out-of-school programs and wrap-around support to Australian children in need. Warren Havemann, CIO of The Smith Family, said, “In 2012, DDLS generously agreed to provide us with a substantial amount of training. We absorbed more hours than they had intended for us to take, booking training as we needed it.”
The impact of this activity began to produce positive outcomes for The Smith Family within less than a year. The training support provided by DDLS has helped align their ICT team. Havemann continued, “The training from DDLS made a very big difference to our ICT team members. Seeing their skillsets develop played a key role in increasing employee engagement and motivation.” To date, 50 courses have been attended by The Smith Family’s ICT team through DDLS, 27 of which have been in Microsoft technologies, and the training is ongoing, as reskilling for new projects such as Office 365 takes place.
2. Deploying New Technologies
Having access to this training has also allowed The Smith Family to deploy leading edge technologies with a minimum amount of risk. For example, courses in SharePoint and Data Warehouse management prepared the ICT staff to deliver a national intranet system for the organisation. SmithNet – built on MS SharePoint and Office 365 – has enabled the organisation to support improved access to knowledge and resources and to increase team member collaboration and communication, bringing together staff located in over 90 communities in every state and territory across Australia.
Havemann recently stated, “SmithNet has enabled us to share documents, policies and procedures, among other key resources. DDLS also helped us with training around ICT processes. All of this support has enabled our staff to connect, ensure best practice and streamline our processes.” Innovation generates excitement so it is no surprise that The Smith Family also has plans in place to use Skype for Business and also OneDrive.
3. Leveraging the Cloud
As a forward-thinking organisation, The Smith Family is already well into a three-year Data Warehouse implementation – built on Microsoft SQL and Power BI. “Training from DDLS has contributed to our focus on digital to enhance our services and supports to the children and families we serve. Our Enterprise Information Project means we now better analyse the data we collect to understand the drivers behind our key longer-term outcomes, for example the school attendance rates of the 34,000 disadvantaged students we support.” said Havemann.
“The insights delivered through data analysis means we can in turn refine and evolve our programs over time, ensuring that those we work with get the kind of support that will make a substantive and positive difference to their lives”, concluded Havemann.
4. The Learning for Life Program
This program helps disadvantaged students to participate more fully in their learning by delivering tailored and targeted support across their entire educational journey. The program also helps students to develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours needed for educational participation and success. In terms of tangible outcomes, The Smith Family’s research shows that not only are Learning for Life students more likely to complete Year 12 than other low socio-economic- status (SES) students not on the program, but only after a year of leaving the program, 84.2% are engaged in employment, tertiary education or further training.
DDLS is proud to sponsor a disadvantaged Australian student through this initiative. That student is currently studying a Bachelor of IT and sitting on an average mark of 85% across her subjects. She shared, “I am enjoying creating websites, but not enjoying programming as it is like learning a new language!”
5. Volunteering and iTrack
All donors are encouraged to support The Smith Family through multiple endeavours, for example by donating gifts to The Smith Family’s annual Christmas Toy and Book Appeal which go to disadvantaged children. However, the standout for DDLS is The Smith Family’s online mentoring program, iTrack, which matches students with a supportive adult (other than a teacher or parent) who provides the student with general encouragement and advice and guidance about workplace, study and career opportunities. Already, more than 20 DDLS staff members have provided over 300 hours of time to assist in the program.
A number of DDLS staff have volunteered their time to offer mentoring support to high school students who may have limited access to role models and understanding of education, or even the world of work. DDLS Alliances Director, Gary Duffield, has been a mentor for The Smith Family for four years. He says, “It is a very humbling experience to get to know young people who come from financially disadvantaged areas of Australia. In my first year, I was genuinely shocked to discover that my mentee did not have access to either role models or the internet at home.”
“DDLS’ continued support is a really important part of my team’s and business’ development. I want to thank them for their commitment to the goals of our organisation”, concluded Havemann.