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New Cadetship Program To Open Doors For Disadvantaged Students


20 April 2017 at 2:00 pm
Lina Caneva
The Business Council of Australia and national children’s education charity The Smith Family have joined forces on a new program to give young Australians from disadvantaged backgrounds a kickstart to their careers.


Lina Caneva | 20 April 2017 at 2:00 pm


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New Cadetship Program To Open Doors For Disadvantaged Students
20 April 2017 at 2:00 pm

The Business Council of Australia and national children’s education charity The Smith Family have joined forces on a new program to give young Australians from disadvantaged backgrounds a kickstart to their careers.

The Cadetship to Career program, launched in Sydney on Wednesday, will initially place 50 university and vocational training students into an eight-week, full-time paid cadetship with a Business Council member-company for each year of their studies.

Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said: “The students will also receive financial support to assist with living and educational expenses, ongoing support to ease their transition from school to tertiary study, and training in skills that are increasingly valued by employers.

“The students entering tertiary study are drawn from The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program, which supports disadvantaged young people to make the most of their education and prepare them for the future.

“These cadetships are about opening doors for students who don’t have the same head-start in life that other students might.

“At the same time, they’ll learn the kinds of skills that are prized by employers but not always taught in formal education, such as problem solving, collaboration and high-level digital skills.”

Westacott described the partnership with The Smith Family as unique.

“It will provide a practical and positive mechanism for big business to help support young people to overcome the challenges of transitioning from education into the workforce,” she said.

The Smith Family chief executive Dr Lisa O’Brien told Pro Bono News: “Disadvantaged young people face some really tough challenges when it comes to education and employment.

“Against the odds, these students have made it through to tertiary study – but many lack the connections and personal support to help them gain the skills they need in a competitive job market.

“The big challenge for these young people is transitioning into the workforce. We know that that is a challenge for all young people today and I think the job market and the prospects for new graduates are at the lowest point since records began back in 1982.

“But it’s a particular challenge for the disadvantaged kids that we support with our programs partly because the first job you get is mainly through your networks, through family, through a range of other avenues, but for those from disadvantaged backgrounds they don’t have that social capital or network around them.

“Increasingly today to be eligible for an entry level graduate position you really need to not only have done well with your studies but also had some work experience or internship and often those internships are unpaid.

“And so for kids who are growing up in a household that is financially disadvantaged, taking an unpaid internship is really just not feasible for them.”

O’Brien said the cadetship program was an opportunity to get a paid internship and access to a whole range of skills and learning and development opportunities with some of the best-known companies in Australia.

“It is a fantastic opportunity and I think potentially life changing for some of these young people,” she said.

“We had been looking to solve the problem of supported transition into employment… and looking overseas at OECD countries like Germany and Switzerland and one of the features we saw was this ‘cause relationship’ between businesses, and business and schools, but also employers creating a pathway into employment and supporting young people.

“The Business Council was very keen to be doing something to address the challenges that young people face particularly disadvantaged young people so it just started with a conversation with Jennifer [Westacott] and us saying do you think you can help us with this? Fortunately we were both on the same page at the same time.

“This is very much a pilot. We are going to see how it goes this year and if it needs to be refined we will do that and we are hoping to grow it over time.”


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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