Skilling Queenslanders for Work is a Queensland Government initiative to deliver targeted training programs to improve the skills, employment opportunities and social inclusion of disdavantaged Queenslanders.
In April, QCOSS delivered two webinars on behalf of the Department of Education and Training to provide tips and tricks for community services organisations applying for funding through the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program.
The purpose of the webinars was to help organisations put their best case forward to improve their chances of success with their funding application. While the webinars focused specifically on Skilling Queenslanders for Work, much of the information and tips provided can also help with other funding and grant applications.
Welcome to today’s webinar on Tips and Tricks for applying for funding for the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program brought to you by QCOSS on behalf of the Department of Education and Training
First of all, I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of country on whose land we meet today.
As this webinar is being hosted in Brisbane, I would like to pay my respect to the Jagera and Turrbal people and acknowledge the elders past and present, and emerging leaders and their continuing connection to land, sea and community.
My name is Karen Murphy from QCOSS, and I’ll be your presenter today. Joining me is Angela Massey who will be the webinar facilitator.
So before we begin, just some housekeeping to start with.
If you are using your computer speakers make sure they are connected and turned on.
Ensure your audio is enabled in the Adobe meeting room. Look for this audio symbol on the menu at the top left of the screen.
If you are still having difficulties hearing you can dial in by phone on the number listed here. The details are also in the confirmation email you received from QCOSS when you registered.
If you do need to interact with us during the webinar you can raise your hand using the audience interaction buttons in the top menu of your screen.
The purpose of today’s webinar is to help you put your best case forward to improve your chances of success with your funding application for Skilling Queenslanders for Work. Our content today is really focused on providing tips for community based organisation to complete tender applications for Skilling Queenslanders for work.
We imagine by now you have already done your first draft or two of your application so these tips will assist you in editing them and making sure they meet the mark!
These tips have been put together in consultation with the Department of Education and Training based on their feedback from previous funding rounds for the Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative. They are also based on our own experiences of preparing funding applications across the community services sector which QCOSS has recently shared in our Love Your Tender webinar series.
While today’s webinar is specifically focused on Skilling Queenslanders for Work, we hope that these tips can also help you with other funding applications.
When we talked to the assessors from the Department they said that they often receive applications for really great project ideas but the applications may not be completed correctly or the benefits are not clear, and there are some common mistakes or errors that come up again and again.
What we’re hoping to do today is to help you to clearly articulate your ideas so they come through strongly in the application process.
What we will cover today are some hints and tips on:
What are the key factors for success and how to address the assessment criteria
We’ll also cover how to make your response stand out
Then we’ll talk about some key pitfalls to look out for based on feedback from the Department on common mistakes
And at the end we’ll provide a checklist with basic points that you need to tick off.
We thought it’s also important to talk about what we won’t cover today
We won’t go into detail about how to choose your RTO, or specific details about each of the different programs that sit within SQW.
We also won’t talk about how to use the online app to submit your application and more general information that has already been covered in the information sessions run by the Department
We are interested to know a little bit about all of you listening today. Throughout the presentation we will pause to ask you a couple of questions.
The first is
Have you submitted a Skilling Queenslanders for Work funding application in previous rounds.
We will just cut to another screen and if you could click on the appropriate answer that would be great.
Based on feedback from the Department and from other funding applications there are four key guidelines to follow
Make sure you address the assessment criteria that is being asked for in the program you are applying for
Make sure you follow the guidelines provided
Provide the evidence that you can deliver the project you are proposing
And make sure you articulate all of that in a clearly written proposal
For any successful funding proposal there are five key elements that you need to address:
You need to show that you’ve understood the objectives of the program
You should highlight the benefits of your proposal in relation to these objectives
You need to make relevant claims against each of the assessment criteria and support them with evidence
You need to demonstrate how your project will provide value for money
And you need to have a unique point of difference to make your organisation stand out from other proposals
If we look at the objectives of Skilling Queenslanders for Work it states that:
Skilling Queenslanders for Work is focused on developing skills for individuals and providing direct assistance to those Queenslanders that need the most support to enter and stay in the workforce.
The key points here being that the program is focused on developing skills and providing direct assistance to those that need the most support to enter and stay in the workforce.
You need to ensure that your project is addressing each of these requirements and be able to clearly demonstrate how that will happen.
Feedback from assessors was that often these points are missing in the tender application.
Further, the initiative is about creating jobs and social inclusion for people who are experiencing disadvantage or who are under utilised in communities.
So again, your application must show how your project will increase workforce participation for people who are disadvantaged or under employed in your local community. This might include building the skills of young people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disability, mature-age job seekers and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
It may be different for each community.
One of the key differentiators for SQW is that projects are community-based this is to ensure that they meet local skills needs and deliver skills development and employment outcomes for participants in their communities.
It’s really important that you demonstrate that your organisation understands your community and how your project will provide training in industry and skill areas where there are local employers with identified job opportunities.
There are criteria that you need to meet to be eligible to apply for the program – eligibility for SQW will be dependent on the program stream.
Bear in mind that you must be an incorporated community-based organisation which is registered for GST.
Your organisation must have experience in delivering services in the locality you are applying or ability to demonstrate that you can deliver.
You will need to work with a RTO which is registered as pre-qualified supplier (PQS). The only exception to this is Ready for Work projects where no accredited training in required.
And you will need to ensure that your project does not duplicate some other initiative that is already happening
Now we’re just going to go through some key tips that will help you highlight the benefits of your proposal and make sure it stands out.
Some of these might seem rather obvious but we’re talking about them because these are the points that are often missing from applications received by the department.
This is essential - it should give a clear and concise overview of your project and include a summary of
• what you are propose to deliver
• the support you are proposing to provide to participants
Again this is essential – community benefit is one of the key objectives of the Skilling Queenslanders for Work Initiative. You need to articulate the benefit your community will gain from the project you are proposing
In your application you need to show that you really understand your local community and the cohort or participants you will be working with.
Again going back to the objectives of the program which is about creating jobs, you need to show how your project addresses the local skills requirements and potential opportunities.
Which brings us to the next point
The application process asks you to provide evidence from local employers that they support the project you are proposing.
It doesn’t have to be a commitment from the employer that they will provide jobs, although that would be good, but it does need to show that they support what you are trying to deliver in the project, that the skills your participants are gaining are in demand in your specific locality and that employers would be likely to employ someone with those skills.
This should also be the basis for identifying training - training identified for a particular locality should be based on employer/industry need, not what is convenient for an RTO to deliver.
You need to articulate what support your organisation will be providing, for example how are you going to support any special needs, how are you going to transition participants to employment, what other support can you provide to help participants get a job. Think about what your organisation does – there may be some things you just do that can be listed here.
Don’t forget to include your audited financial statements. You must include two years of audited statements. These should be the most recent two financial reports.
This is normally what you would include in your annual report.
While we are on finances make sure you use the correct budget tool – don’t just attach the tool from a previous application.
As you would know by now you need to use the online app so make sure you download the latest budget tool in the application portal.
We are aware that there were some issues with downloading this tool early on, but this has been fixed.
Make sure you contextualise your answers.
Clearly articulate in your application why will this approach work in your community, and why will it work with this cohort, and why it addresses identified barriers.
Giving that context is really important because this is about projects benefiting local communities.
If you have applied multiple times across different locations, a ‘one-size fits all’ approach will score lower than applications that are contextualised.
Be realistic about what you can deliver if you put in multiple applications and they are all successful you need to be able to deliver them all
Again - if you have applied multiple times across different locations, a ‘one-size fits all’ approach will score lower than applications that are contextualised.
Now let’s talk about the assessment criteria.
When it comes to answering the assessment criteria you need to be clear about what is being asked for in each criteria and what needs to be included
A good response will be clear, concise and comprehensive
Plan your key messages, the key points you want to make, and ensure you put them up front
And make sure you provide the evidence to back up your claims
Now we are going to go through each of the assessment criteria and talk about firstly what is being asked for and then how you can address it.
So the key point here is to keep calm and answer the question!
If we look at the first assessment criteria which is capacity to manage, what’s being asked here is around issues such as the financial viability of the lead organisation, what is your structure, governance, risk management and reporting framework, and importantly what relevant experience you have in this area.
What the Department really wants to know is can your organisation deliver what you say you are going to deliver?
What you need to address then is:
Information about your organisation, your track record, and staff experience linking back to how you are going to deliver the project
Your chosen participants – this covers a range of different aspects: including your organisation’s experience in dealing with the identified cohort and understanding of their barriers to employment. It also includes articulating how are you going to reach and recruit participants and ensure they are eligible for the program?
Further in this criteria you need to include information about the experience your organisation has delivering training or projects outside an institutional setting and in a community-based environment
The next assessment criteria is Servicing community and industry needs
What’s being asked here is how does your project fit into your local community?
What is the community benefit and what is the community need?
What is the link between the learner group and the skills shortage and labour needs in the local community in which your are proposing to deliver the project?
If your organisation is based outside of the delivery area, you will need to address community and industry links in the delivery location.
Make sure you clearly articulate what these links are.
What you need to address here is to show that you know your community – you know who needs work and that there is an industry that suits them and fills a labour shortage
You also need to show your links to employers in the community – it does not have to be a commitment but you need to show that local employers support the project your organisation is planning to deliver, not just support for your organisation
The other thing to address is how will the project link with other local initiatives or services
The next assessment criterion is Strategies to assist participants
What’s being asked here is how are you going to support participants to overcome barriers to learning and employment.
This is really what differentiates SQW from other employment programs because it’s about supporting people who are disadvantaged in some way. Your job is to support participants to overcome a barrier to learning and getting a job.
Support might include, but not be limited to, providing career advice, job preparation skills, and individual case management.
What you need to address here is to show that you understand the people you will be working with and their barriers to employment
Articulate how you are going to support the participant to overcome those barriers
Outline how the learning needs and goals are appropriate to the particular participants you are targeting
Talk about how you will provide job placement and post-placement support, and what your transition to employment strategy is
Outcomes will vary according to the specific program. The department’s expectations about the outcomes to be achieved for each program are published on their website against program guidelines.
This assessment criteria comes down to the key objective of the program which is how are you going to help your participants get a job?
Again this is about showing that you know the local community in which you have applied. You need to address how the qualification and skills you are providing match the needs of local employers and how you are going to support disadvantaged learners to overcome the barriers to employment.
This is where you need to provide evidence that local employers know your organisation and support your project, and if possible would employ your participants.
The final assessment criteria is cost and value for money.
Cost and value for money is not just about price
Best value does not mean the cheapest but you have to address how you came up with these costs. You need to justify how these costs will help participants overcome those barriers and get a job.
It’s important to outline how much in-kind contribution is included and what it entails. Remember to think about what your organisation is providing and articulate any in-kind support.
Put in the rationale about how you came to your cost estimates
What are the value-adds? A value add may be providing resume writing skills, doing some interview training and getting participants ready for the interview
Don’t forget to include letters from other organisations providing in-kind support on their letterhead
To summarise the issues that you need to address, if someone reading your application can answer these questions then you are on track to addressing the selection criteria.
Who is your cohort
How will you address their barriers
How will you reach them and recruit them
What is the project you will be delivering
How does it benefit the local community
These are the jobs participants will be eligible for
Who will you be working with
What level of industry involvement will there be
These are the local employers who support the project
The next point we want to talk about is how you demonstrate your unique point of difference.
Don’t assume that it’s clear why your project should be funded and why it’s a good idea for your community. You need to specifically point out this out.
As you’re addressing the assessment criteria you need to be clear about what your unique point of difference is. What is going to make you stand out from other organisations?
Explain how your project meets the program objectives and improves the situation for participants
How does it deliver specific benefits to your community
In summary why should the committee choose your organisation and project and not another organisation
Now that we’ve discussed what you need to include here are some of the common pitfalls to look out for. These are based on feedback from assessors in the past funding rounds about common mistakes or omissions that they see.
They might seem simple and obvious but these are exactly the points that can trip you up.
The first one, and perhaps the most important, is not addressing assessment criteria.
Also important is providing accurate project summaries.
The next one is not demonstrating local knowledge and understanding of cohort. Again local community ownership is a cornerstone of the program so it’s really important that you address this throughout your application.
Other common mistakes are using wrong budget tool, not including audited financial statements and not including letters of support from local employers. These are all essential for your application.
Finally, we have the No Excuses slide!
Again, these points may seem obvious but these are the things that can trip you up and make a difference between an OK and a great application.
It always pays to check and double check before you submit your application.
- Download the guidelines and follow them
- Check your spelling and
- Check you’ve included all the appropriate attachments. The app will guide you on what should be included.
- Cross check your figures to make sure they match. Make sure the figures in your budget summary match those in the budget tool
- Check for copying and pasting errors, particularly if you have applied across more than one region
- Answer the question being asked (don’t rely on using another grant application you have already written)
- Check that your answers are clear and simple
- Proof read your application including headings and your organisation’s name. It’s a good idea if you have someone else proof read it too.
- And finally don’t leave it to the last minute.
To sum up we have provided a checklist for you to go through once you’ve completed your application to ensure that you’ve addressed all of the issues we’ve discussed here. Remember that once you’ve submitted your application you can’t edit it so make sure you’ve ticked off all these points before you hit submit.
We’ll send you this with a link to the webinar recording later today.
Contact details for the DET regional offices can be found on the SQW webpage:
That brings us to the end so thank you for your attendance today.