How will young people find pathways to employment beyond the pandemic?
A new collaborative pilot project led by Victoria University (VU) and Jobsbank aims to be part of the solution, creating direct connections between employers with skills shortages and young people without work in Melbourne’s west.
It’s a region where the need for innovative employment solutions is particularly acute, with pre-pandemic youth unemployment tracking at double the overall average.
“Research tells us that people who are not in education, employment, or training are at great risk of social exclusion," says Ross Coller, Executive Director of Engagement and Advancement at VU. “In the current economic environment, there is a greater risk of young, job-ready, skilled graduates not moving on to employment, and that’s what we are hoping to overcome in this project.”
With input from the West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA) and employment social enterprise YLab, the Western Melbourne Jobs Program creates a solution that will place job-ready, skilled graduates from VU Polytechnic and VU higher education with specific industry partners in the region.
Research by Jobsbank and VU found skills shortages across a wide range of healthcare sectors, as well as demand for IT and engineering graduates and for hospitality and tourism workers stretching into the state’s south-west.
The program was developed around linking VU graduates directly to employers, and is made possible with the support of the Western Metropolitan Partnership and funding from the Victorian Government.
Initial meetings involving 15 employers in the area showed a real willingness across industries to help tackle the problem and employ skilled young people.
“The silver lining of the pandemic is that it made us think local first. Employers are becoming more and more attuned to the benefits of creating opportunities for those in their direct community,” says Jobsbank CEO, Corinne Proske.
“Employers are ready to hire but don’t have a way to connect with VU graduates, except for those applying through traditional recruitment channels,” Ms Proske says.
“This collaborative model leverages government funding from DJPR, local employment and training and social procurement opportunities. It brokers a direct connection between employers and skilled graduates.”
As well as linking young people into industry, the program has a strong focus on supporting all parties throughout the journey, with the social enterprise YLab providing mentoring support to young people once they transition to work, through its Western YLab team.
Given the pandemic-related obstacles already thrown at 2021 graduates, helping place them into jobs is a way to act proactively at a time when they are most eager to join the workforce.
Jobsbank and VU are also looking into future skills demands to anticipate what employment will look like in the area in the years to come.
“We are taking time to listen to industry partners operating in the area to make sure we prepare the next cohorts with skills aligned with future demand,” Ms Proske says.
About WoMEDA, YLab & Jobsbank
The West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA) was established with an independent board and the support of Victoria University in 2017 to influence new economic development opportunities and create more local jobs in the west of Melbourne.
YLab is an employment social enterprise facilitating connections and conversations between young people, community groups and organisations to define and solve challenges. It also supports young people to access services that help them pursue their self-determined aspirations.
Jobsbank makes inclusive employment and social procurement work for business. An independent, Victorian-based not-for-profit, Jobsbank looks at individual business needs, tailoring solutions to increase employer inclusivity and fill workforce gaps. Jobsbank works closely with government, community and non-profit partners to create full-service business support that makes socially inclusive employment easy and sustainable.