Mentors Needed to Help Students Navigate Career Paths
5 October 2015 at 10:55 am
An army of volunteers is needed by Christmas to deliver The Smith Family’s 2016 iTrack online mentoring program, an initiative providing guidance to high school students on their post school options.
A total of 1,500 volunteers mentors are needed, with The Smith Family’s National Manager of Volunteering, Lauren Stocker, urging anyone considering becoming a volunteer mentor to sign up to make a positive difference to a student’s future.
“Our iTrack program is reliant on our being able to find volunteer mentors – we have 1,500 students across Australia in need of mentors from mid next year,” Stocker said.
“If we don’t recruit enough volunteer mentors now, these students will miss out on a truly valuable experience.”
iTrack was developed more than 10 years ago in response to research revealing that many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds disengage from their education and dropout of school during their teenage years.
The program pairs adult mentors with students in Years 9 to 11 from schools in low socio-economic areas which have established partnerships with the national charity. Mentors chat with students via a secure online chatroom, providing guidance, advice and encouragement about workplace, study and career opportunities.
Data recently released by the ABS reported a national decline in volunteering numbers for the first time in 20 years, with 75 per cent of those surveyed saying they feel rushed or pressed for time.
“We live in an increasingly time poor world, meaning fewer people feel they can take on regular commitments,” Stocker said.
“Our iTrack program is actually one of the easiest volunteering opportunities to get involved in. It’s an hour a week over two school terms and because it’s online mentoring, volunteers don’t even need to leave their home or office to take part.
“It’s so easy to commit to, but can have a huge impact on a student’s life.”
Stocker said the benefits of volunteering for the iTrack program went both ways.
“Volunteering is an opportunity to expand your skills, experience and boost your sense of well-being. No specialised skills or background are required to become an iTrack mentor. If you’re a good communicator, supportive and believe in the importance of education for young people that’s what’s most important,” she said.
87 per cent of last year’s participants said that chatting with their mentor helped them understand more about reaching their career goals
The program will commence in two bursts – in May and July next year – and the mentoring relationship will run for 18 weeks.
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