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UNSW Sydney’s workplace learning business, Mentem by UNSW, has won a prestigious Australian Good Design Award in partnership with the Department of Regional NSW (DRNSW) and McKinsey & Company.

The group received the Best in Class award in the Service Design: Public Sector Services category for the development and design of the ‘Digital Skills Program – Building the Department of Regional NSW’s future-ready workforce’.

The Department found that gaps existed in foundational digital skills among its largely remote workforce, constraining its digital transformation and affecting staff connectedness and productivity.

The solution was to provide DRNSW with a learning program to upskill remote staff in foundational digital literacy and help them stay ahead of new technology. Mentem worked with DRNSW and McKinsey to also develop a template to scale the program to improve digital literacy across the whole of the Department.

Mentem CEO Arvind Sampath said some of the unique aspects of the program included its mix of formal and on-the-job learning and personalised coaching sessions. The design of the program was continually refined based on learner feedback so participants could get the most out of the program.

“We are excited and proud to have won this award for our work with McKinsey and Company and the Department of Regional NSW in building a future-ready workforce program,” Mr Sampath said.

“It shows the critical importance of skill building in organisations, and that Mentem’s approach has a unique value proposition and can successfully deliver learning in the workplace that sticks, to deliver real outcomes.”

DRNSW Director of Workforce Capability and Talent, Donna McLeod, said the Department was incredibly proud of receiving the award.

“The team put tremendous effort into designing and implementing this program with great outcomes for our employees and to be recognised through this highly respected award is a proud moment for our team and the NSW Government,” she said.

DRNSW Senior Program Coordinator Jeanette Massie, said: “Through COVID we recognised our staff were balancing remote working with new challenges and priorities. We wanted to ensure they were supported and equipped with the right tools to do their jobs effectively. Our goal was to conceive an integrated learning program that would have positive, real-world benefits for our staff.”

Dr Rod Farmer, Associate Partner, McKinsey and Company said: "With an estimated five million Australians to be significantly disrupted by 2030 due to technological, economic, societal and environmental shocks and disruption, upskilling workforces will be a critical move for many organisations. This is great recognition for the Department of Regional NSW and its partnership with Mentem and McKinsey and Company, to not only build its resilience but change the lives of people working across the state.”

UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Attila Brungs, said: “Businesses are shifting their focus to invest in the reskilling or upskilling of their existing workforce to address skills shortages. Mentem’s innovative education model meets the needs of this new type of learner by drawing on UNSW’s high quality educational content and decades of adult learning experience. It is an exciting concept fit for these times.” 

The Australian Good Design Awards is one of the longest-running international design awards programs in the world, promoting design and innovation excellence since 1958. The Best in Class accolade represents the highest level of design excellence and is limited to the top 30 projects. Judges look for projects where a holistic design approach is carefully considered, improves the quality of life for people and contributes to better economic, social and environmental outcomes.