Disadvantaged Students Get Pathway to Government
31 March 2017 at 2:29 pm
Disadvantaged high school students are being given a taste of what it means to work in government through a new partnership that aims to ensure future job seekers from underprivileged areas are not left behind.
Not-for-profit organisation Doxa has teamed up with the Victorian government as part of its University Pathways Program (UPP), to introduce disadvantaged young people to a wide range of roles and employment pathways available within a government department.
The four-year program also aims to create aspiration and build valuable knowledge and skills to support a future career.
Doxa CEO Dr Stephen Silk told Pro Bono News it was about getting young people to stay in education and then aspire to higher education.
“The UPP is a program which runs for [students in] years nine, 10, 11 and 12 year from disadvantaged schools to inspire and have them aspire to stay in education and to aspire to get to university,” Silk said.
“The way to do that is to have them engage with businesses, to have them engage with university, have them get a sense of what it’s like to finish school, to go to university, to gain gainful employment.
“What we’re most excited about [with the latest partnership] is that the government wants these young students to understand about the opportunity of working in government.
“We’re delighted that they’ve moulded their initiative with the program we’ve got so that these young people can get an opportunity to observe what it’s like to work in government, to get a first hand experience of what working in government is like.”
He said the new partnership would see disadvantaged young secondary students learn and understand current initiatives that could help shape the future of Victoria.
“We have teamed up with the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources to give disadvantaged high school students the opportunity to learn about current projects such as drought programs, infrastructure projects and transport programs,” he said.
“From the tender process and planning to finance and marketing, participants will be immersed in government projects and how they are rolled out from start to finish. “
Silk said the program also included “valuable and important modules” on personal development and employability skills.
“When the year nine students come in obviously we are teaching them things that are relevant to that stage of their schooling and that can be anything from teamwork, personal development and then going out and having meetings in businesses around Melbourne,” he said.
“Then they progress through years 10,11 and 12, building on the things that they’ve learnt through the program, but always focusing on things that are going to lead them to have improved employability skills, to lead them to better understand what happens in the business working environment, to lead them to have a better understanding of what happens in the university environment if they aspire to get to university.”
He said developing the suite of employment pathways programs helped connect the other programs they already offered.
“We developed over the last three years through our strategic planning, recognition that while we had our original camps programs…[and] our cadetship program which had been running for 25 years…we didn’t have a group of programs connecting our association with disadvantaged young people, to our camps programs, connecting them to our cadetship program,” he said.
“So we developed a suite of programs called our employment pathways.
“We are trying to provide connection for the young people that we are working with in their early stages of their schooling, and often some of the most impressionable stages of their schooling, developing programs to assist them to aspire to complete their education, to aspire to get to university, to aspire to work.
“And then, if needs be, to connect with our cadetship program which is if they do well enough to get to university we’ve got ways of assisting through their disadvantage.”
The latest program targets students attending a disadvantaged state or independent school from outer and metropolitan Melbourne to ensure they have the best chance at gaining a foothold in the job market when they finish their studies.
Silk said Doxa had a long history of association with disadvantaged schools in Victoria, particularly through its camps programs and typically targeted the bottom 10 per cent of schools.
“Because of our association with those schools in the past, we know which are the areas where the most disadvantaged schools exist, so they’re the ones that we’ve been targeting and they’re the ones that we’re working with,” he said.
The first session took place on 23 March and involved five Victorian schools including Fountain Gate Secondary College, Kurunjang Secondary College, Sale College, Lyndale College, and Suzanne Cory High School.
Science and mathematics teacher, and high achiever and extension coordinator at Fountain Gate Secondary College, Nicole Tritter said the program gave students valuable insight into the government workforce and life beyond secondary school.
“The program allows participating students to begin to explore the world of work,” Tritter said.
“The workshop also allows students to gain confidence in their personal and communication skills to help them realise their potential and achieve personal greatness.”