In some places across Australia, one in five young people can’t find a job. The national average youth unemployment rate is more than 12 percent, and in isolated centres like northern Queensland and west Tasmania, the number is exceeding 20 percent.

These are stark numbers. But one program is making an effort to change them by helping young jobseekers find work for the first time ever.

After finishing high school, Chloe Isaacs found herself unemployed for almost two years. She suffered a common problem; her lack of experience locked her out of the job market. “Id never had a part-time job, so I had nothing to go back on,” she said. “I think its difficult to find work anywhere. People want experience, but they wont give you the experience to get the job.”

Chloe’s prospects improved dramatically when she participated in the job readiness program Women@Work. Offered by Skilling Australia, a not-for-profit organisation supported by the Coca-Cola Foundation, Chloe said the program taught her skills to use in the workplace, how to create a good resume, and even lined up the interview with her current employer. “Doing this course, I got my self-confidence back, and I got a great opportunity offered to me,” she said. “I just took life by the horns and went for it.”

Brooke Webster had a similar story. After quitting her university course, Brooke had difficulty finding a suitable career path. Participating in Skilling Australia’s Women@Work program meant she was able to get a Vocational Preparation certification, and land a full-time position as a clerk at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. “Definitely, I wouldn’t have got the job if I didn’t do that,” she said. “I wouldn’t have even known about it. Its opened my eyes to a lot of different things.”

The program has proven to be transformational for both young women. For Chloe, her new job with the Minister for Ports, Major Projects and Manufacturing has brought her the independence she was working toward. “It has definitely helped at home, where Im able to pay my own bills rather than relying on my parents,” she said. “With this job, I hope I can use it to travel Australia or around the world, with the skills and knowledge that I have.”

For Brooke, the program has set her off on what she hopes will be a career in human resources. “Id never worked a nine-to-five job before, so it was hard at first,” she said. “But it has been very rewarding – my lifes changed a lot.”