Photo of Ben Gilmore and the following interview is curtesy from the UNE Pulse Newsletter.
Tell me a bit about yourself – how did you end up in Armidale and at UNEP?
I’m a vocational training veteran having worked in the sector for the past 15 years. I started working at UNE Partnerships four years ago as a consultant before transitioning into a permanent role.
I fell in love with Armidale and the people on my very first visit. Having previously worked in very large organisations it was a refreshing change to join an organisation that felt like family and where everyone is collegial and collaborative.
My wife and I moved to Armidale from Brisbane with our six-week old son soon after I accepted the position at UNE Partnerships. My first visit to Armidale was in the middle of summer and we decided to move here in the depths of winter. It took some getting used to!
Tell me about your training. What are some of your professional highlights? And what are your areas of interest?
I spent most of the last 15 years in learning design and technology roles. It is a sector that has evolved rapidly in the past decade and I am confident that UNE Partnerships has the organisational agility to remain ahead of the curve.
A standout professional highlight was the decade I spent as part of a team responsible for growing a start-up into a highly successful private training organisation which educated 50,000+ students in the space of 10-years. It was absolutely incredible to be part of such a meteoric growth experience.
You previously worked as Director of Learning and Innovation at UNEP. How will this experience influence your priorities for UNEP?
The broad scope of my previous role provided me with a solid foundation from which to step up and manage the whole business. I bring extensive expertise across learning design as well as sales and marketing and we have a fantastic team who are experienced, training and education professionals. There is always room for improvement but, for a small business, we have demonstrated our ability ‘punch’ above our weight.
In the time I’ve worked at UNE Partnerships we’ve seen 15% year-on-year growth in our sales.. We have also expanded our suite of corporate relationships and have developed a strong collaboration with our partners which include organisations such as the Australian Defence Force.
What are some of the biggest challenges for registered training organisations currently?
Our biggest challenge at the moment is that some two-thirds of our business has traditionally been in corporate training, however enrolments from this sector are likely to soften in the coming year as businesses find their way around sustained economic uncertainty.
In contrast, it is encouraging that we have seen a sharp uptake in individual student enrolments. We’re optimistic that this trend will continue as people seek to upskill or move to protect their careers.
How do you relax and recharge when you’re not at your desk?
My wife and I love the water. We used to spend our weekends camping and fishing, although our boat hasn’t seen much water since we moved to Armidale – it’s just been sitting in the shed! I’ve been known to binge watch the occasional Netflix series on the weekend. Mostly I love to spend time with my wife and son. Unfortunately, we’re not travelling to Brisbane to see the rest of the family as often as we would like.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I’m very excited about this opportunity to grow UNE Partnerships. We’re a small regional RTO but we have the backing of this incredible UNE brand that is well-known and respected in not only the education space but by private enterprise and government agencies. I’m keen to see how far we can take UNE Partnerships with such support.
Who and what is UNE Partnerships?
UNE Partnerships was founded by the University of New England in 1983 to undertake a study on technology transfer with particular focus on the potential for biotechnology.
The late Arthur Rickards OAM wrote the proposal to establish UNE Partnerships and chaired the UNE Partnerships Board for its first three years. UNE Partnerships commenced operations as UNE Technology Transfer (UNETT Pty Ltd) in 1986 with a regional development grant to commercialise UNE research products .
In 1996, the then UNE Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bruce Thom, decided to merge the University’s Office of Continuing Education with University Partnerships and the name was changed to UNE Partnerships Pty Ltd to better identify it with its parent organisation.
The change coincided with broader changes in government’s agenda on vocational and professional training. The vocational sector was opening up, with private colleges allowed to compete with TAFE. These colleges became registered private providers and later Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) with qualifications recognised nationally and internationally under the Australian Qualifications Framework.
A strong case was put to the UNE Partnerships’ Board of Directors that the company should become a registered provider and seek to have its own nationally recognised qualifications.
In 1999 UNE Partnerships became a registered Training Organisation, accredited with VETAB NSW. The company has successfully under gone re-registration every five years since this time and is currently registered through till September 2024.
UNE Partnerships has now become UNE’s commercial education company, providing nationally recognised distance Vocational Education to individuals and business partners.
UNE Partnerships enjoys a close working relationship with peak bodies including:
Some of UNE Partnerships current clients include: