The norms of work are changing rapidly. It is expected that young people will have between 15 and 20 jobs in their lifetime. To ensure young people are ready for the jobs of the future, they will need to receive guidance on the range of career options available to them earlier and more effectively.
Even though educational attainment for young people has increased significantly, we still face the issue of an unemployment rate that is at its highest in more than a decade. Opportunities to take up work placements are becoming more and more difficult to come by and young people are increasingly taking up casual work or work unrelated to their field of study.
Navigating work options can be confusing for most young people, and for youth at risk the journey may be especially complex. For example one in seven young people live in households where their families have experienced entrenched unemployment and this challenge becomes even greater for them. Those young people whose families are not working are less likely to gain work experience while studying, less likely to plan post-secondary education and more likely to feel dissatisfied with their studies. This lack of work experience, knowledge of the job market and consequently job networks contributes to young peoples’ disadvantage when searching for work.
Around 50% of young people in jobless families don’t feel confident about their ability to get a job. Early careers learning and work exposure will be particularly important for these young people who are at risk of falling out of the education and employment system. Work exposure opportunities have the potential to make a big impact on future job outcomes for young people.
There are many ways that young people can fall through the cracks. We need to have conversations and walk alongside them and point them towards basic training options. This does not necessarily mean pointing them in a linear direction, but showing them the options available to them.
Catherine Yeomans, CEO, Mission Australia
It was identified that careers education and workplace exposure starts too late, often not beginning until Years 10, 11 or 12. Even then the link between curriculum and industry is limited; a recent survey suggested that only 4% of employers engage with education providers to align careers advice to their needs.
Fewer than half of young people are making well informed decisions when choosing what to study and even after entering the job market, fewer than half of young people were happy with the career path their studies had led them to.
There is a disconnect and mismatch in the market between what employers want and expect and what’s happening for young people as they are being educated and transitioned out of school. We are unprepared for a rapidly changing world of work for every young person, not just for young people who are disadvantaged.
Jan Owen, CEO, Foundation for Young Australians
There is an opportunity to better prepare young people for the world of work. Career guidance has a positive impact on short-term learning and a young person’s attitude and motivation.
For many young people having more targeted guidance that is linked to local industry is critical to increasing their understanding of the breadth of career options available, and to then transitioning effectively into work, further education or training. Through building ‘on the ground’ relationships between the education, training and business sectors, workplace learning can be developed providing attractive and alternative pathways to work for young people.
Case study Beyond the Classroom
This innovative idea is an integrated model of careers learning that starts earlier, brings employers into the school and provides young people with tangible, practical and deeply informing work exposure. Beyond the Classroom will use a body of best practice experience internationally, and from smaller scale Australian programs which have an evidence base of success.
Evidence shows that introducing young people to the world of work from Year 7 can have a profound impact on young people’s labour force outcomes. The Foundation for Young Australians, Beacon Foundation and Social Ventures Australia are developing a model of careers learning that aims to prepare young people for the world of work by starting work exposure earlier and bringing together the key stakeholders that need to be involved to successfully transition young people into meaningful jobs.
The model will be coordinated at a school level by Local Champion Groups, made up of educators, employers, parents and young people and through bringing the following key elements together, navigating the school to work transition will become an easier process for young people:
- Careers learning audit tools to assess strengths, needs and opportunities for individuals, schools, community and employers
- Integrating Careers Learning into the classroom, providing students with lessons developed by employers and crystallising the connection between school and work for students
- Providing young people with work exposure throughout their high school years and time out of the classroom to build skills and networks that enhance their employability
- Identifying, developing and practising employability skills within a work context
- School-industry networks aim to connect the gap between employers and students by equipping teachers with the knowledge to provide career advice and potential employer expectations to students
- Parent engagement strategies to support their children’s decision making and post-secondary planning
Young Australians are not just the workers of the future; they are the employers, the leaders, the changemakers, the people who will tackle the unprecedented social, economic and cultural challenges that lie ahead.
Jan Owen, CEO, Foundation for Young Australians
Case study Beacon Foundation – Creating Collaborative Classrooms
The Beacon Foundation works with students, schools, businesses and the community through a range of school based programs, providing purpose and motivation for students to explore a positive pathway for the future. Their approach to tackling youth unemployment is to embed positive careers learning in the school curriculum, particularly at vulnerable transition points.
Business Blackboards is one of Beacon’s key programs which brings business into the classroom to deliver industry focused lessons. The program is designed to bring the curriculum to life and show students how their studies link with the real world of work. Business Blackboards create an ideal learning environment where students can increase their awareness of employer needs and practices in a classroom environment as well as career opportunities and pathways.
Beacon traditionally ran the Business Blackboard program for year 10 students, but recently uncovered the benefit of running the program as early as Year 7 and 8 at Ashcroft High School in Sydney. Beacon partnered with Hong Kong Aviation, whose practices and school curriculum are strongly linked.
This was rewarding for both the students and Hong Kong Aviation, giving the business an opportunity to address their future skills needs
The industry representatives brought in so many amazing examples of Maths and it all just spring boarded from there… they helped us to discover spots within the syllabus that we can link and bring into the classroom.
Megan Boltze, Head of Mathematics at Ashcroft High School
In trying to tackle youth unemployment you need careers education front and centre in schools. Starting in Year 7 expose young people to the world of work straight away. Have greater industry engagement to the point of even having employment consultants in schools, ensuring young people are supported to on go on that positive pathway.
Scott Harris, CEO, Beacon Foundation