Hannah dropped out of school when she was 15. She struggled with difficult personal circumstances, was unemployed and had lived on welfare for five years. Finding work proved really difficult. She would apply for lots of jobs but was caught in a cycle of needing qualifications and experience but not being able to access either.

Hannah broke the cycle when community organisation Skilling Australia found a place for her in its Career Development Program. Since then, she hasn’t looked back.  After completing her training Hannah is now working full time in a job she loves and able to support herself.  Not only is she on track to a brighter future, Hannah’s confidence and self-esteem has grown as a result.

Getting a Hand Up

Apprenticeships in Australia are an effective way for young people like Hannah to gain the experience and training they need to get a job. However, in most trades, apprenticeships can be difficult and costly to access and have dropout rates of up to 50%.

This drop-out rate is a concerning statistic, but one that Skilling Australia is working hard to change.

Seeing a need to not only help young people access an apprenticeship, but also help them stick to it, Skilling Australia launched their Career Development Program. It works by linking young people like Hannah with one-to-one mentors who help support them throughout their apprenticeship and keep them motivated and on track to reach their goals.

To qualify for the program a candidate must be suffering financial hardship or disadvantage.

"Our grants are designed to assist young disadvantaged Australians by giving them a ‘hand-up’, not a ‘hand-out’, helping them reach their full potential," says Jen Clement, Foundation Coordinator for Skilling Australia. 

"The recipients receive $1000 to cover tuition fees, books and other expenses. Thanks to the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation’s recent $30,000 grant, we’ve been able to make 10 more places available for selected apprenticeships and traineeships.” 

Jen says she's met young people who feel hopeless and have never been given a break. But then, when someone comes along and invests in them, their lives can be transformed. 

"It is hard work but when you see that transformation happening, and a kid’s life changing for the better, you know it’s worth it,” Jen explains. 

The end goal is to remove the barriers that would hinder a young person experiencing disadvantage from accessing the workforce and also helping retain them in their training.

Youth unemployment figures for Australia are higher than for the general population and there is also a large skills gap. Up skilling young people can help to address both these issues. With Skilling Australia’s help young people can access training and the workforce, build a better life for themselves and their families, while at the same time addressing  one of the challenging issues facing not just young people but society as a whole.

 For more information, contact Jen Clement, Skilling Australia Foundation Coordinator at jclement@saf.org.au or check out Skilling Australia’s website.