NFP Creates Talent Pipeline for Corporate Australia
29 July 2014 at 10:38 am
With more than 1000 students now taking part in its program, Indigenous internship Not for Profit, CareerTrackers has gone from strength to strength since its Founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Combs won a Westpac Community Leaders Award.
In the past seven months since Combs took out the award in the Social Entrepreneur category, CareerTrackers has more than doubled its student numbers from about 400 students to more than 1000.
It has also attracted more corporate partners, growing from 42 corporate partners to 86 – its most recently signed partner is Leighton Contractors.
"Corporate investment is not just about ‘nice’ CSR strategy. For us it’s about creating a pipeline of talent for corporate partners,” Combs says.
CareerTrackers is a national Not for Profit that creates private sector internship opportunities for Indigenous university students.
Originally from the US, Combs based the CareerTrackers model on the US-based INROADS African-American internship program to help address Indigenous disadvantage in Australia.
CareerTrackers recruits pre-professional Indigenous university students and links them with private sector employers to participate in a multi-year internship – with the aim of converting from intern into full-time employee upon completion of their degree program.
"Universities recognise that students who come through CareerTrackers will graduate at higher rates and there is improved education outcomes,” Combs says.
Combs says currently 98 per cent of CareerTracker students are offered an internship after their placement.
“Students invited back to the company is 94 per cent,” he says.
“98 per cent of interns are asked to return and intern for two or more internship periods. And 89 per cent convert to full-time employment within their companies.
"Our selection process doesn't look at grades, we put up a number of hurdles that test the student’s level of resilience. We look at their potential not their backgrounds.
"CareerTrackers is now embedded in Indigenous communities – students are connected.”
Combs says CareerTrackers has now set up its business model so it no longer needs government funding, instead it looks to corporate partners for a deeper and long-lasting connection.
"What we did was look at corporate partners and ask how do we convince corporate partners to make a deeper connection,” he says.
"We want to get 10 companies to sign a contract with detailed KPIs that we both need to achieve.
"We are starting to get companies to understand how important the fabric of corporate and indigenous Australia is.
"How do we develop the first Indigenous CEO? How do we develop a greater representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on big corporate boards?"
Combs says his Westpac Community Leaders award was a stamp of recognition and approval from a corporate perspective.
"It says ‘hey this is an organisation that is the best at what it does in the country’,” he says.
"The real leadership Westpac shows [through the Westpac Community Leaders Awards] is it looks at the organisations that make real change.”
Nominations for the 2014 Westpac Community Leaders Awards, an initiative that recognises inspirational leaders across Australia who give generously of their time, capabilities and commitment to the Social Sector are now open.
This year, there are six award categories, including; Start-up Leader, Established Leader, Treasurer, Social Entrepreneurs, Board Members and Partnerships for Purpose, and each award recipient will receive financial and educational support valued at more than $12,000.
Finalists will be announced in October. For more information about the 2014 Westpac Community Leaders Awards or to nominate a leader from your community, visit: www.westpac.com.au/CLA2014
Pro Bono Australia and Westpac are partners in promoting the For Purpose Economy.