The Acorn Mentoring Program is part of the Acorn Network, an organisation created by Samantha Bowen to support young professionals in a traditionally older employee industry. The 2016 National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey – The Aged Care Workforce revealed 18.8 percent of the workforce is 25–34 years old.
It was recognising the importance of mentors in her working life which inspired Ms Bowen to create the program. “After running events across Australia, I have been lucky to meet and connect with many inspiring and engaging leaders who are able to share their expertise, advice, and opinions,” she says.
“So, I decided now was the time to create a program to support non-clinical and clinical professionals to identify the networks around them, and help them navigate a mentor relationship as they work towards their own professional/career goal.”
The five-month pilot program consists of face to face meeting (if the mentor is nearby), online, video conferencing and other communications and also evaluation sessions. “Not only will mentees be creating a bond and learning from emerging and established industry leaders, but they will build their industry networks, and have access to great resources that will support them on this five-month journey,” says Ms Bowen.
Some of the volunteer mentors include Nicki Doyle, KPMG Director; Chris How, CEO Bethanie Group; Dr Nicky Howe, CEO SouthCare Inc; Tony Hagan, Executive Manager of Philanthropy VisAbility; and Amber Crosthwaite, Director at Dentons.
Currently in the process of selecting 25 mentees from over 3500 staff, Ben Van Lierop General Manager - Quality, Education and Talent Development RSL LifeCare sees the program as a real opportunity to grow and energise its young leaders. “We are looking for mentees from a full cross section of the organisation, including catering, IT, maintenance, home and residential care,” he says. “When the mentees have been selected, the Program will match them with a mentor to meet their needs.”
Mr Lierop also believes the program will help with staff retention, attract new staff and will build the workforce capability with growing and emerging leaders. “With embedded learning, we can grow their skills,” he says. “We are very excited and looking forward to helping and producing wonderful leaders.”
While the program is still in a pilot phase, Ms Bowen hopes it will become a permanent resource for young leaders. "We know our emerging leaders are looking for mentors; they're looking for support guidance, career opportunities to explore and to understand if they have leadership potential - yes, they are ready to get a little uncomfortable," says Ms Bowen.
"We also know industry leaders are looking for mentees; individuals who are driven and passionate about our industry's future. They want to pay it forward, share insights, experiences and develop young aged care professions," she adds. "Now is the time to connect them together and count the leaders amongst us."
Applications for the Acorn Mentoring Program close 15 July 2017. For more information, visit the Acorn Network website.