Trying new things: building skills to get disadvantaged young people into work

30 July 2019

Trying new things. That’s an important part of an employment program for young people the Brotherhood runs in the outer Melbourne suburb, Frankston, which has a youth unemployment rate among the highest in Australia.

The Creating Futures for Youth program is supported by Citi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of global bank Citi, and several Citi employees led a workshop in Frankston recently. The workshop developed participants’ interview skills through mock interviews, provided insights into a variety of workforce pathways and focused on ways to develop a positive mindset.

Nathan and Zac were jobseeking for more than a year before joining the program earlier this year. They say they have gained a lot of confidence and skills through the program, and the workshop was very useful.

‘This program has helped me to get out and about. To come out of myself,’ says Nathan. ‘At the workshop, they spoke a lot about navigating situations where you are outside your comfort zone, and that was really helpful.’

Zac says he had no firm career plans when he came to the Brotherhood. But the consistent, strong encouragement he has received from his youth development coach, reinforced by Foundation staff in the workshop, has seen his confidence grow significantly.

He is now doing an animal studies certificate course, and is considering further studies in that field. Meanwhile Nathan is about to undertake a Year 12 qualification, as a step toward a sound engineering and songwriting degree.

Read more about Creating Futures for Youth.

‘This is the first foyer evaluation to present rigorous evidence of sustained, beneficial impacts,’ says Professor Shelley Mallet, Director of the Brotherhood’s Research and Policy Centre.

A report by Professor Mallett and Brotherhood researchers, Marion Coddou and Joseph Borlagdan, finds many benefits in key areas, including:

EFY Foyers developed young people’s living skills and supported them to access decent housing.

Big improvements in their housing independence at exit further improved a year later. The percentage living in their own place (renting or owning) increased from 7% at entry to 43% at exit, and to 51% a year later. Meanwhile, the percentage sleeping rough or living in crisis accommodation, treatment centres or detention declined from 32% at entry to 3% at exit, and to 2% a year later.

EFY Foyers enabled young people to pursue education qualifications necessary for sustainable employment. In total, about 70% of participants had either achieved a higher qualification or were still enrolled a year after exit. Of those who had not completed a higher education qualification, 70% were still enrolled a year after exit.

EFY Foyer staff created opportunities for young people to find internships, work experience, mentors and jobs aligned with their goals and plans. In the year after exit, about 85% of participants worked or studied. The percentage of participants employed, including in part-time or casual work, increased from 19% at entry to 31% at exit and 36% a year later.

Brotherhood Executive Director, Conny Lenneberg says to build skills and opportunity and spark hope in young people experiencing homelessness, an ambitious, new approach was needed.

‘Homelessness is more than just rooflessness, it deprives people of skills and strengths and represents the ebbing away of opportunity and hope in their lives. The evidence is in - this new approach works.’