16 November 2022

New youth employment pathway program takes off in Canberra

| Dione David
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Group of youths in front of three men

The Creative Pathways To Employment Program is aimed at youths aged 17 to 24, helping them identify a path to success and training them in transferable skills they need to achieve it. Photo: Kulture Break.

A program to help young people find employment pathways and close the skills gaps in troubled industries is being trialled in the ACT.

Following a successful pilot last year, not-for-profit social enterprise and community service provider Kulture Break is currently running its Creative Pathways To Employment Program. A second intake begins on 19 January.

Kulture Break founder Francis Owusu said the six-week program was aimed at youths aged 17 to 24, particularly school leavers, benefitting them in four ways.

“Firstly, it broadens their awareness of their employment options because a lot of young people finish school with no real sense of what the right next step is for them,” he said.

“Secondly, it equips them with confidence and skills to put themselves out there. Many youths aren’t sure what they’re good at, what’s out there and what they can do.

“We’re trying to bridge that gap by providing them with pathways and three critical soft skills we believe to be vital to all industries – how to build effective teamwork, how to apply WHS [workplace health and safety] practices and lastly, how to meet their customer or client needs.

“Thirdly, we’re connecting them with businesses in industries where there will be a mutual benefit. These include hospitality, real estate and live events.

“Lastly, we’re providing wrap-around support to help them overcome whatever barriers they may face and ensure their success.”

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The program involves three units of nationally recognised competency skills as well as the opportunity to put what they’ve learned into practice over five days of work experience in one of those three industries.

A case manager and a life coach will support participating youths throughout the six weeks.

At the end of each program, participating employers will guarantee an interview and possibly employment.

The program runs in partnership with various business industries including real estate, medical, hospitality and live events.

“These three industries represent a small sample size to demonstrate whether you can move between industries with the skill sets we’re training,” Francis said. “The idea being that they are transferable skills across those industries.

“It will expose these youths to business mentors and career advice, and essentially form a support team to help navigate how they use what they’re learning to improve their interview skills and job prospects in these industries.”

Four people standing side by side

Clubs ACT’s Kate Palmer, Ray White’s Jake Battenally, ACT Minister for Skills Chris Steel and Francis Owusu at the Creative Pathways To Employment Program launch. Photo: Kulture Break.

Francis said the program would not only help the participating youths but funnel valuable workers to where they were desperately needed.

“Businesses are crying out for employees. They can train them in the technical skills, all they need is enthusiastic people willing to have a go,” he said.

“Many kids are leaving school with a lack of confidence or fear of failure. We’ll equip them with essential skillsets, open up their networks and, perhaps most importantly, get their confidence up.

“Once you’ve experienced working in an industry, perhaps even met the head of that industry who has said ‘come in for an interview’ – that’s a real confidence boost.”

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Known for its dance classes, Kulture Break’s existing students formed a pool for sourcing the pathway program’s target demographic.

“A lot of our students didn’t know what they were capable of doing beyond dance,” Francis said.

“We did some community consultation at grassroots levels with parents, schools and businesses to talk about what skills shortages and gaps they were seeing. The program came out of that.

“The pilot program took place with three high school students during COVID lockdown. We had two units of competency over a longer period as part of their schooling. We had the live events and hospitality industries involved.

“One young guy, Oscar, after being involved in that program, landed a job in live events … We’re hoping the Creative Pathways To Employment Program will recreate that kind of success story at scale.”

The Creative Pathways to Employment Program’s next intake starts on 19 January. Places are limited to 25 participants, first in best dressed.

Register here for the information session for intake two on 30 November.

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