It’s well known a number of Australian states are struggling with high youth unemployment rates. At the moment South Australia holds the position of being at the top of this table. A forum held in Adelaide on 28th August 2017, posed the question: ‘Education to Employment: Are we doing enough?’
Hosted by CEDA (Committee for Economic Development of Australia) and organised with the help of Beacon, this event brought together around 180 people – from sectors such as business, education, government, community and youth service providers.
For Beacon it was a great opportunity to spread the word about what the organisation does, and in particular put the call out for more industry representatives to be part of Beacon’s work.
In a panel discussion, Beacon CEO Scott Harris told the audience that we all have a role to play in educating young people, and industry plays a important part in this, saying,
“Simply being in a classroom and discussing with young people the job opportunities can be so valuable. Often young people don’t know the kinds of jobs that exist – that’s why it’s critical schools and industry are aligned.”
Foundation for Young Australians CEO, Jan Owen, also spoke at the event. She revealed that her organisation’s research found the things that employers are now looking for in employees are: digital literacy, bilingual skills, critical thinking and creativity. Ms Owen says that we must stay focused on education, and not just getting young people to ‘ace the test’, instead,
“teaching students that we are learners forever – that is a new mindset. If we do that for our young people, we will give them a bright and successful future.”
Representing business on the panel was Scott Morath from national engineering firm Jacobs – who’ve been working with Beacon for around 20 years, including hosting Beacon staff in their offices around the country. He agreed with others that the whole community needs to work together on guiding young people from education to employment.
Scott told the forum that Jacobs employees enjoy working with Beacon to encourage students to look at STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) careers. He added that many young people who visit Jacobs offices around Australia on Site Tours and other Beacon activities may not otherwise get direct exposure to careers of this or any kind.
Gregg Harris, from NAB, also on the panel, posed a question to the audience.
“Who are you mentoring in that age group (15-19) and what can you share?”
He said that any interaction that a young person has with a business gives them a greater understanding of what’s possible.
Student Fatima, from Thebarton Senior College, who was interviewed by the ABC at the forum, said what young people needed most when looking for a job was confidence.
For Beacon’s CEO, it’s this and other ’employability skills’ that are crucial for young people to be gaining while they are still at school.
After the forum, a number of people expressed an interest in working withe Beacon – meaning new conversations will be started, with young people’s future at their heart.