It takes the commitment of business, government and the community to tackle unemployment, and that’s exactly the push behind a recent initiative in New South Wales.
In a bold new way of tackling unemployment, the government created a $10 million Youth Employment Innovation Challenge. It sees funding delivered to programs that think outside the box to address youth unemployment.
The initiative specifically targets regional areas where unemployment statistics can be up to 17 percent higher than the 12.5 percent youth unemployment national average.
Here’s an insight into the challenge and just three of the great initiatives that were successful.
The Innovation Challenge
NSW has some of the highest youth unemployment statistics in the nation with regional areas predominantly feeling the effects.
The Southern Highlands is the worst affected with unemployment of 29.7 percent. Last year this saw the NSW Government create the Innovation Challenge. It was an initiative that attracted interest from 77 organisations, with 32 shortlisted and 17 ultimately chosen.
Each had to address the following criteria in an innovative, solution-focused way:
- How can we develop and promote clearer pathways, so young people can make informed decisions about their employment options?
- How can we better connect young people and employers, so that they are the right fit for each other?
- How can we bring employers on the journey to create more youth inclusive work environments?
- How can we assist young people who have transport barriers to access training and employment opportunities?
- How can we enable young people to identify their skills and for employers recognise those skills?
Strive by Wentworth Community Housing
At Wentworth in the Blue Mountains, the community housing association is looking to tackle youth unemployment while also meeting a social need.
There, the Wentworth Community Housing Association has partnered with Platform Youth Services, Penrith to provide young people with the skills and training to perform maintenance services for frail and disabled housing tenants.
Welcoming the news Wentworth CEO, Stephen McIntyre said: “We know that young people who grow up in neighbourhoods where there is concentrated disadvantage can struggle finding and maintaining employment. We also know that many of our older social and affordable housing tenants can have difficulties maintaining their homes.
“At Wentworth, we think we can make a difference to both groups by employing young people to deliver that service to older people. We’re really grateful for the Youth Employment Innovation Challenge funding as we explore how we can make that innovative idea work.”
In Armidale, Backtrack targets the welfare of young people who might otherwise fall through the cracks, offering a suite of training and services to offer education, support and employment skills.
This unique program tends to work with 12 to 18-year-olds and is often their “last resort for claiming and living a decent, happy life”.
BackTrack has a number of elements including giving disadvantaged kids the responsibility of training BackTrack Dogs. It also offers training and work experience on rural properties, welding workshops, a literacy and numeracy program run by a full-time high school teacher, and a program for girls that sees them gain work experience at schools and aged care facilities.
Home Care Heroes NSW
Home Care Heroes is a network of everyday people who offer companionship or assistance to the lonely, elderly or those with a disability. It’s also a way of connecting job seekers with people who need in-home non-medical care.
The service is rolling out across NSW, sees Home Care Heroes paid by the hour as independent contractors, and works to meet a rising community need for connection.
The Fr James Grant Foundation
Here in Victoria, we may be part of the NSW Innovation Challenge, but the Fr James Grant Foundation also tackles youth unemployment in an innovative, solution-focused way.
Our program partners with corporate entities and organisations to offer on-the-job training and mentoring for young people looking to enter the workforce.
We tailor each program to the business involved; working with business to impart the skills they require and instill the employee ethos they seek.
If you are a business looking to participate, there are two ways to become involved: you can assist through workplace training or mentoring, or alternatively, assist the program through sponsorship.
Either way, the businesses involved are helping to change Australia’s employment landscape at a time when the youth jobless rate is at its highest in years.