Plan to Tackle Long-term Youth Unemployment
1 February 2016 at 10:35 am
Some of Australia’s leading companies have signed up to a program designed to change the way the employment system works, with employers and service providers working together to support young people experiencing long-term unemployment.
The Industry Employment Initiative (IEI) is a collaboration between Social Ventures Australia (SVA), the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Jesuit Social Services and Mission Australia.
The initiative is a demand-led model that works with employers to understand their skill needs and vacancies. It then works backwards to design a training pathway to support potential candidates into those roles.
So far Coles Supermarkets, Radisson and Marriott Hotels, and Goodstart Early Learning have agreed to be a part of the program.
The number of job seekers experiencing long-term unemployment in Australia recently reached its highest level in 16 years, with more than half a million people out of work for over a year.
SVA CEO Rob Koczkar said it had become increasingly difficult to access entry level positions, creating a “lost generation” of young people shut out of employment opportunities, and a new wave of long-term unemployed.
At the same time, it is predicted that Australia will need 800,000 new workers over the next five years. Though national employers have job vacancies, only 7 per cent of employers use the current government system to recruit staff.
“National employers have vacancies and are eager to provide meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for disadvantaged jobseekers. However, feedback has consistently shown that employers need guidance, tools to support and retain this cohort over the long term,” Koczkar said.
“The IEI provides deep employer engagement alongside wrap-around support for jobseekers so that a sustainable relationship between employers and jobseekers can be built. If the lessons emerging from this pilot can inform the approach of employment service providers across the country, the impact on our community and economy could be very significant.”
Last year Goodstart Early Learning provided work experience followed by ongoing employment to 15 long-term unemployed young people in Melbourne and Darwin.
Goodstart Early Learning CEO Julia Davison said the IEI program had provided an opportunity to collaborate with SVA and the Brotherhood of St Laurence to support young people experiencing long-term unemployment.
“Goodstart has supported 15 young people from the IEI program, through traineeships in Goodstart centres in Victoria and the Northern Territory since August this year. After participating in the program, the participants have successfully transitioned into permanent full-time employment with Goodstart,” Davison said.
Davison said the success of the program was largely due to the collaboration between the employer and the IEI program leaders in co-designing a program that benefits the employer and identifies the needs and capabilities of the jobseeker.
Anna Beamish from the Brotherhood of St Laurence said the journey to a job was far from easy for many young people
“They experience barriers including little or no work experience, literacy & numeracy issues, homelessness, mental and physical health challenges and sometimes family violence,” Beamish said.
“Despite this, with the right support, they can and do flourish, challenging the stigma of unemployed young people as not worth the trouble.”