Disappointed in changes at Mitchell Institute, Victoria University

Beacon Foundation is saddened to learn of the changes at Mitchell Institute in Victoria University, which will see it cease to exist in its current form next year.  For the past five years, the Mitchell Institute has been at the forefront of educational research in Australia. They have led inquiries and campaigns around:

  • Value of early childhood education
  • Opportunity cost of educational attainment
  • Transitions into education and vocational training
  • Teaching capabilities – like 21st century learning and enterprise skills
  • Preparing young people for the future of work
  • Collaboration between the worlds of work and learning

Chief Executive, Scott Harris said the changes would be a great loss to Beacon Foundation and many other organisations that work with young people, business and industry.

“For the past 30 years, Beacon Foundation has been an advocate for building better links between school and industry. However, we are often advocating on these issues based on our own firsthand experience working in school and community.  Our organisation has benefited greatly from Mitchell Institute’s research, and have been able to draw on findings into sector wide trends and international developments in education.

It’s disappointing that the Institute as it stands is not continuing, particularly given the enormous interest and pressure on the education sector to build the skills and capabilities that young people need in a changing workforce.

We have had significant inquiries into education from David Gonski and Professor John Halsey, who have both stressed the value of school and industry collaboration to our education system.  And government is slowly beginning to respond to these challenges and looking at how our curriculum to meet these needs.

Research bodies like Mitchell Institute have been valuable for us and our stakeholders, because they have given us credible, evidence based recommendations for how we can start to build opportunities for young people. This has been done in a way that consults with organisations like Beacon Foundation, but also with educators, specialists and business and industry.  We have found that they have been able to be a real broker in bringing government, policy makers, educators and young people together to suggest change and to showcase real life examples of good practice”

Staff at Beacon Foundation wish exiting staff from the Mitchell Institute the best of success in their future endeavours.

Response to Senate Committee report – ‘Future of work and workers”


The future of the world of work in Australia is once again being highlighted, with the handing down of a Senate Committee Report. Beacon Foundation welcomes the tabled report on the ‘Future of Work and Workers’, as it brings to the attention of Government and the wider community the disconnection between education and employment that still exists.

The focus of the inquiry was to consider how the Government should respond to trends in the workplace and how we prepare workers for the changing world of work.

For 30 years Beacon Foundation has been reaching out and connecting young Australian secondary school students to the world of work. We help prepare them for the workforce by teaching them transferrable skills, giving them job seeking and career management insights, providing work experience and exposure and building networks.

Beacon Foundation is pleased the Senate Committee noted that the workforce is changing, and changing fast. We know that with globalisation and technological change, the type of work and the conditions of work are being transformed.

CEO Scott Harris argues that the greatest concern around this is the way this change is affecting young Australians, through the growing casualisation of the workforce, a decline in manual work and entry level jobs and the risk of more jobs being automated.

“Beacon Foundation has consistently advocated for better integration between business, industry and schools … this is critical for setting up young people for success.”

Mr Harris agrees with a number of the Senate Committee’s recommendations, in particular that:

  • The Australian Government establish a central body to coordinate future planning for the future of work;
  • That this central body is pro-active in developing policies for the future work force for ‘at risk workers’;
  • There are better links between industry, education providers and unions, with a focus on tailoring courses to suit future jobs growth …
  • That we work to improve links between VET and tertiary education sectors, and modify school curriculum to ensure a better integrated education system.

He supports the Committee’s recommendations that more investment and an overhaul into our education system is required to support future workers.

“These calls are echoed in the ‘Gonski 2.0 report’, and are also front and centre of the consultation in the NSW Curriculum Review,  Mr Harris says.

“It’s time for the Federal Government to be pro-active with a long term plan for the future workforce of Australia – one that considers the risks that young people are facing.”

Beacon Foundation welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with government, industry and schools to create better linkages across the community. This will see young people have the skills needed to navigate the future world of work.

For more information: communications@beaconfoundation.net

Read the full Senate Committee report here.

Tour de Office takes off for Beacon Foundation


Tour de Office, Beacon Foundation’s major fundraising initiative for the year,  has been officially launched. Coinciding with 30 years of Beacon’s work, the event sees businesses take on a health and wellness challenge, while raising money to allow more young people to access our work readiness programs.

Chief Executive Scott Harris got some practice in on the bike at a media event in Hobart yesterday,  joining representatives from businesses which have already signed up.

In explaining why the fundraiser is so important, Scott told journalists that youth unemployment remains a big problem. He said it’s one which Governments can’t tackle alone and that Beacon Foundation’s work is vital.

It’s unacceptable that so many of our young people go outside their school gate to nothing … employment creates dignity and self respect.

Tour de Office for Beacon Foundation is running throughout Australia,  between 15th and 26th October. Organisations participate by having their employees ride on a stationary bike for half an hour each. Individuals have their own fundraising page, and can live stream their ride to their supporters.

Mark Devine, Managing Director of supporting business L.J Hooker Hobart, says youth unemployment is a big challenge for the whole community and the decision to take part in Tour de Office was an easy one.

The work (of Beacon Foundation) is critical. They deliver on their outcomes and create an awareness for the community.

Another business getting ready to take part is Hobart Airport, Tasmania. Senior Project Manager, Dominic McNamara volunteers in Beacon’s programs. He’s looking forward to seeing his colleagues involved too.

To see our people out of the office and taking part is great for us … and to support Beacon is part of that.

Scott Harris thanked those who’ve agreed to take part, and called on more people to do so. He told media of the immense satisfaction in seeing young people assisted to transition from school to meaningful employment, particularly those who come from challenging backgrounds.

There is nothing better than seeing young people that have broken that cycle and are on their way.

Anyone interested in taking part can email partnerships@beaconfoundation.net


Photo : Kath McCann, Sales & Marketing Manager for Wrest Point, with Scott Harris

School-Industry partnerships must grow – Beacon Foundation welcomes Mitchell Institute report


A new report by Mitchell Institute, called “Connecting the worlds of learning and work” is welcomed by Beacon Foundation, with its findings confirming our experience.

Mitchell Institute’s research focuses on the role that school-industry partnerships play in developing the knowledge, skills and capabilities (including STEM skills) that young people need for the future world of work.

Beacon Foundation has 30 years’ experience of delivering programs aimed directly at helping to build these bridges. Beacon Foundation believes bringing real life relevance into the curriculum is pivotal in helping young people be better prepared for the workforce.

“The Mitchell Institute’s findings confirm our experience”, says Beacon Foundation Chief Executive Scott Harris.

“We welcome the recommendations in the report, and agree that schools can and should be better supported to partner with industry to prepare students for work, and other meaningful pathways.”

The report’s recommendations include: students being encouraged an an earlier age (from primary school) to broaden their careers awareness and aspirations; that there be more opportunities for inquiry based learning; and that Teachers be supported to develop skills to deliver the curriculum in more enriching and innovative ways.

Barriers found include the challenging nature of aligning industry and ‘real world’ issues to single subject curriculum and the additional time and resources needed to develop and grow school-industry partnerships. It found some schools need more support to find and learn how to build partnerships, so that communities that aren’t as connected or rich in relationships can receive the same opportunities as those that are deeply engaged.

The report noted the need for school-industry partnerships to complement, not replace high quality teaching.

Scott Harris says of particular note in the research is the point that these partnerships are important for young people from low socio-economic backgrounds who may lack networks to help them into employment.

“Partnerships between schools, industry and the wider community are not standardised or common in every community. In our experience, this type of education can be piecemeal, or at worst, entirely absent.”

Beacon Foundation believes that given the rapidly changing world of work, it is important that we start to prioritise bringing more relevance into school education and addressing the barriers identified in Mitchell Institute’s report.

Mitchell Institute’s report can be found at:



Youth unemployment rate demands greater attention

The national unemployment rate of 5.4% for June 2018, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), is the lowest it’s been for five years.

But, youth unemployment remains at least double that in more than 60% of Australian regions*. The national youth unemployment figure stands at 11% and is much higher in many areas.

Beacon Foundation Chief Executive, Scott Harris, was asked to talk on the subject on ABC Radio’s Tasmania’s Drive show on Friday 20th July.

Mr Harris told Drive Presenter, Gary Magnussen, while he welcomed improvements in employment rates, the issue remained one of the biggest facing the entire country, and that behind the statistics are thousands of young people missing out.

“You might be second, third, or fourth generation unemployed and may be desperate to break that cycle, but you need to understand the job opportunities around you and the changing nature of the world of work.”

Mr Harris said Beacon Foundation’s work is based around making a bridge between school and employers and getting more industry partners working closely with schools.

He said there is great willingness from the community to provide young people with work exposure and experience and to help show them the relevance of education to work.

“It’s really important that all sides, whether it’s politics or business or for purpose organisations, are able to come together around this issue in a really constructive meaningful way.”

Mr Harris gave the example of schools being linked to industry to organise School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships, which give secondary school students hands on experience in a workplace, but also see them continue their education to Year 12.

“It’s really important for us in the work that we do to focus on Year 12 attainment … because the jobs of the future will require at least a Year 12 attainment level”

Mr Harris applauded efforts of Governments to support young people into employment, and urged all sides of politics to make the issue a priority.


*Brotherhood of St Laurence (2018), “An unfair Australia? Mapping youth unemployment hotspots”, March http://library.bsl.org.au/jspui/bitstream/1/10573/1/BSL_Unfair_Australia_Mapping_youth_unemployment_hotspots_Mar2018.pdf

Ministers urged to work quickly on national education review

Beacon Foundation welcomes the latest review into school education in Australia with CEO Scott Harris urging Education Ministers to act swiftly to implement the changes they’ve largely agreed to. Of particular importance is the review into years 11 and 12, and the need to lift the importance of career education.


‘Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools’, (the Review) handed to the Government by David Gonski AC, unfortunately paints a grim picture of the declining performance of schools in this country.


Among its ambitious and challenging recommendations, are a number of measures that Beacon Foundation supports. Particularly important is the need to comprehensively review years 11 and 12.


“Beacon Foundation is currently researching ways to increase Year 12 attainment, through our Collective ed. project. This project has been set up because we know that this educational outcome is critical in setting young people up for a prosperous and successful life.


“I believe that the findings of the Collective ed. project will be of significance as we dive deep into the multiple, linked causes that stop young people from achieving in education – rather than typical superficial ‘band aid’ responses.” Mr Harris said.


There are a number of other key themes included in the Review’s recommendations which Beacon Foundation counts as vital in the work it does connecting school and communities to support successful transitions from education to meaningful employment.


These include, ‘strengthening the development of general capabilities’ and ‘school-community engagement’.

The engagement of wider communities in education is a crucial element across all Beacon Foundation’s programs.


For example, Beacon’s online mentoring program MyRoad uses volunteer mentors to teach

the importance of general capabilities, such as team work, resilience and cooperation – which are so important in the workplace.


The Review also shows that Beacon Foundation has been on the right path, building better links between industry and schools. Industry and business volunteers take part in many of our programs, including our day long work readiness programs, right around Australia.


“Schools and industry acknowledge the way this collaboration enhances education and employment outcomes. There are benefits for students, teachers and industry from this collaboration.  I’d like to see this as a central part of secondary school education,” Scott Harris says.


Mr Harris says Ministers must take into account the Review’s thinking on career education – that it is a key part of senior secondary schooling, and that narrowing this focus is limiting the employment potential of senior students.


“Young people in our public schools have so much potential, and to ignore the findings of this Review or to fail to act quickly, would be to consign them to the wrong end of the table when it comes to educational attainment.”




For more information:

Scott Harris

Beacon Foundation Chief Executive

0407 884 384

GOAL! making STEAM subjects shine

A new way to engage students in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths (STEAM) has just been unveiled.

The online program of teaching resources, called GOAL! is accessed through eBeacon and is a collaboration between The Huddle (North Melbourne Football Club’s not-for-profit) and Beacon Foundation.

Beacon CEO, Scott Harris is excited about the program, which will be available to primary and secondary schools in Tasmania.

“It’s significant that the North Melbourne Football Club is really committed to this state. This program will help young people transition outside school to a really positive pathway.”

At the launch of the program at Bayview Secondary College in Hobart, General Manager of Community engagement for NMFC and The Huddle, Cam McLeod, described GOAL! as a tool to help reach and engage students. He says the program’s Units of Inquiry will demonstrate how STEAM relates to jobs of the present and the future.

“Using sport to educate students from Grades three to 12, across Tasmania, in how to apply STEAM to everyday life.”

Mr McLeod say Tennis and soccer will also be used as part of GOAL!

Gill Berriman, Principal at Bayview says she and other educators know that working in partnerships is very important.

“The key thing is that we have shared goals about achieving educational outcomes. Our school has a strong aspirational culture and we are proud to be part of this program.”

Two Teachers at Bayview, Adrian Eberle and Tullia Chung-Tilley have played an instrumental part in the design of the Units of Inquiry. In their desire to produce a truly integrated approach to STEAM, the first Unit focuses on individual health and how that impacts on the broader community. It includes resources to teach science, PE, the Arts/Media and Maths.

Educators within Beacon’s Program’s team are also part of the process of designing the Units of Inquiry.

The GOAL! program aligns with the Tasmanian Education Department’s careers initiative MyEducation as well as curriculum for Year 10 Work Studies.

The major funder of the initiative, the Tasmanian Community Fund believes GOAL! is a worthwhile community investment and that teachers teaching teachers is a sustainable model.

For more information or to register to access GOAL! head to this link:


Three new schools come on board Beacon’s big education project for Tasmania – ‘doing education differently’

Port Dalrymple School at George Town, Deloraine High School and Sorell High School will start their journey ‘doing education differently’ with Beacon Foundation’s ‘Collective ed.’ project from 2018.

Beacon Foundation CEO and Director of Collective ed. Scott Harris joined Tasmania’s Minister for Education Jeremy Rockliff and school principals at Port Dalrymple School in George Town to mark the announcement on Thursday 24th November, 2017.

Collective ed. is an action research project that runs until 2021, designed to improve low Year 12 attainment in Tasmania.

The project will work with six Tasmanian public sector secondary schools. Along with those announced today, three other schools, Ulverstone High, Jordan River Learning Federation and Bayview Secondary College, are also part of the initiative. The work will involve helping these schools test innovative and effective ways to help young people attain Year 12 or equivalent (such as Certificate III).

Mr Harris says he’s excited to see the second group of schools come on board, to be part of addressing an important issue in Tasmania – raising the hopes and aspirations of young people in these communities, and having them complete Year 12.

“The project’s focusing on Year 12 because there’s an evidence base that young people without a Year 12 qualification will be increasingly disadvantaged in the labour market and less likely to go onto higher education.

“They’re also more likely to work in lower paid jobs and have lower lifetime earnings.

“Not only is this qualification an important indicator of an individual’s life chances and personal well being, but it’s also key in increasing prosperity in the economy.” Mr Harris said.

Minister Rockliff welcomed the new schools to the project, which has the student at its centre,

“Bringing new ways of engaging schools and aligning industry, giving students choice and opportunity.”

Students of Port Dalyrmple School played a big part in the event, welcoming guests, providing music and food and acting as MCs.

Each school will have three Collective ed. staff members whose roles will focus on Community consultation (parents, students, families and wider community); Business engagement (working with industry and businesses in schools); and Teaching and learning (working with teaching staff in schools.)

Schools will also be supported by an evaluation team, which will help them build evidence of what works, and what does not, in improving Year 12 attainment.

All the schools that are part of the project responded to an Expression of Interest process.

Principal of Port Dalrymple School Jeanna Bolton-Dean says joining Collective ed. is a wonderful opportunity for the school and the George Town community.

“Developing business and industry links with the school is essential to providing authentic learning opportunities which are engaging and relevant to student pathways.

“There are lots of opportunities for local industry and business to connect with our school into the future, which is exciting for a K-12 school.”

Beacon Foundation believes it’s not just getting the piece of paper at the end of Year 12 that’s important, but the process that’s undertaken to get there. Collective ed. is working to motivate and connect students to their education, through things like work exposure, work networks and career management.

CEO of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Simon Freeman also spoke at the event,

“This project has the potential to be truly transformational.”

Scott Harris congratulates the progressive and ambitious schools taking part in Collective ed. which are prepared to take risks and try new and innovative ways of working – ‘doing education differently’.

He also says the project is playing a direct role in the employment of Tasmanians with about 30 positions created.

Collective ed. is a $15 million, five-year project, funded by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Australia’s biggest philanthropic organisation, and the Tasmanian State Government.

Brewing up a great partnership – young Australians to benefit

Young people in communities around Australia are set to benefit from a new fundraising initiative, launched by cafe group Jamaica Blue.

Students from Blacktown Girls High School were invited to a special breakfast on Friday 13th October, along with Foodco employees and representatives of Beacon Foundation to mark the start of the program. The breakfast was held at Jamaica Blue’s flagship store at Moore Park in Sydney.

Managing Director of Foodco (Jamaica Blue’s parent company), Serge Infanti, spoke at the event, saying  the company is passionate about supporting Beacon Foundation in its work.

“Youth unemployment is at 12.5% in Australia, and up to 25% in some areas. So, as an employer of many young people across the nation, we feel Jamaica Blue has a responsibility to support its local communities.

“71 Jamaica Blue cafes have a Beacon partner school in their local community and our fundraising efforts will enable Beacon to run its successful High Impact Programs in these areas,” Mr Infanti said.

High Impact Programs are a series of one day workshops run in schools, designed and operated in conjunction with volunteers from the world of business and industry. They are targeted at secondary school year groups, seven to 12. Each program is designed to prepare and motivate young people for a successful post-secondary school transition by working with each individual to develop highly sought after employability and 21st Century skills.

Beacon CEO Scott Harris also spoke at the event, thanking Jamaica Blue for its generosity in setting up the fundraising initiative.

“The transition from secondary school to further education, employment or training is one of the most important in setting students up for success in life. Jamaica Blue’s fundraising efforts will allow Beacon to continue inspiring participants, and kick start the working lives of high school students.”

Scott also commented that the more connections a young person has with industry professionals while they are still at school, the higher their chances are of being inspired to seek a path of further education or employment.

During the launch event, the students were involved in a panel discussion around careers and the workplace, and also participated in a barista workshop.



Innovation in IT sees eBeacon secure National recognition


Beacon Foundation is striving to be at the forefront of innovation in delivering its online platform eBeacon – and now this unique work has been recognised on the national IT scene.

eBeacon is the first of its kind in Australia, facilitating online communication between secondary school teachers, industry volunteers and students. It enables Beacon to reach more young people than ever before, and ultimately improve student, employment and community outcomes.

Beacon and Tasmanian web designers Ionata Digital have been awarded a Merit Achievement (second place) in the category of ‘Community Service’ at the 2017 Australian Information Industry Association’s iAwards ceremony in Melbourne.

After winning a state iAward  in June, the team went on to the national finals on August 30th, 2017, and gained great recognition from a field of eight finalists in their category.

For Beacon CEO, Scott Harris, the award is an acknowledgement of years of work planning and developing eBeacon and finally delivering to schools in 2017.

“For us eBeacon represents the opportunity to connect young people to the world of work in regions of Australia never before touched by Beacon’s work.   For the young people in these communities, this means opening their eyes to possible careers, and importantly, helping make their education engaging.”

The app is already being seen by members in remote and regional schools as a means by which their students can be connected to wider Australia; to be linked to employers who give them information and advice; to be shown the kinds of jobs that are available in the 21st Century workplace; and for students to be shown examples of how their education is relevant to the world of work.

National eBeacon Manager, Jodie Fraser said that the State and National iAward recognition was exciting and extremely encouraging for the future of the online space for Beacon Foundation.

“Through the innovative use of technology our goal is to provide young people with the experiences and resources they need to navigate the changing world of work.

“Our current offer is ‘MyRoad’, an online mentoring program which connects young people with volunteers from across Australia to increase their self-confidence and inspire them to explore new hopes and plans for their future”, Ms Fraser says.

MyRoad 2017/18 is exclusive to young women in their senior years of secondary college.  Visit ebeacon.net.au/MyRoad to get involved and to register your interest in volunteering with Beacon.

eBeacon has many other offerings too, for example, Business Blackboards. These allow businesses and educators to co-design lesson plans, linked authentically to curriculum outcomes to inspire excellence and increased engagement with students and teachers. These experiential lessons provide a unique opportunity for business to showcase career pathways and skills. Beacon’s Business Blackboard Library is updated regularly for members to use in their planning.

Other features include Learning Lives – in which, for example, people from a range of jobs chat to a group of student live, via video conferencing technology, about how they use skills learnt in certain subjects in their daily work; or how young people can get their foot in the door to a job in particular field.

And then there’s access to Career Story videos, training modules and the opportunity to take part in scheduled Events, connecting Beacon staff to other collaborators to encourage and support the use of eBeacon.

eBeacon is in its first stage of roll out to secondary schools around Australia, and will continue is development and roll out in 2018.

“Watch this space,” says Jodie Fraser.

“We have some exciting initiatives planned for 2018 and beyond.”


Picutred at the awards night are L-R,  Anthony Garnham (Business Development Manager, Beacon), Christian Cuthbert (Chief Technology Officer, Beacon), Jodie Fraser (National eBeacon Manager, Beacon), Val Ridley (Director – Programs, Beacon), Martin Anderson (Managing Director, Ionata Digital).