A partnership between the National Australia Bank, the Foundation for Young Australians and The Smith Family is making it easier for businesses to engage the next generation of young people by inspiring them to pursue careers that are rewarding and offer long term sustainability.
Work Inspiration is a model for reinvigorating work experience that puts control into the hands of employers. Since the program was introduced to Australia in 2011, employers across the country have used it to create experiences of the world of work that engage and inspire the next generation. It is an example of businesses taking their future into their own hands rather than leaving it in the hands of governments to take care of it for them.
The participation of young people in education, training or employment, however, is something that governments usually monitor closely. Work Inspiration grew out of awareness in the UK of the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), and though it was of concern to the British government following the London riots in 2011, Work Inspiration was a business-led response to a business need with social implications.
Australia’s youth participation rate, which measures the number of young people between the ages of 12 to 24 engaged in education, training or employment, has hovered around 71-72% since the mid 1980s, apart from a short dip to 67% in 1993. From a high of 73% in 2009, there has been a sharp decline in youth participation that this year sunk to 66%.
Apprenticeship commencements are likewise concerning. In the wake of incentive cuts that leave businesses to fend for themselves in engaging young people in education, employment and training trade commencements have fallen 12% in the twelve months to June, and non-trade commencements fell from 70,000 to 36,000 from March 2012 to June 2013.
Though this should raise the eyebrows of any economic conservative, the incoming ‘conservative’ government has made no commitment to address the declining youth participation rate. The Coalition’s plans are superficial and lacking a unified vision.
Skilled workers in all industries work hard to prepare the next generation for their industry, and until recently, government incentives have made a big difference to their capacity to make the commitment to preparing new recruits. Governments now seem to be turning their backs on those members of the business community who actively support young people to engage in education, training and career pathways.
The future of the private sector in the ACT is dependent on developing the employability of the next generation. There is a need for targeted action to ensure young people are not lost from education, training or employment, and to stem the tide of young people disengaging from education and training. In the absence of coordinated strategy from government, business leaders are being left to fend for themselves to develop the skills of young people and to engage them in the future of Australian industry.
Programs like Work Inspiration demonstrate how powerful employer-led initiatives are. After only a year in Australia, the campaign is gaining momentum from businesses that have taken it upon themselves to improve the way they prepare the next generation to participate in their workforce. While the figures for youth participation are concerning, as long as businesses take a pro-active approach to engaging young people, there is every reason to be optimistic about the future.
SAVE THE DATE
Chamber Golf Day
DATE Thursday 17 October
TIME 11.30am Registration
VENUE Federal Gold Club, Red Hill
Melbourne Cup Ladies Day
DATE Tuesday 5 November
TIME 11.00am to 4.00pm
VENUE The Deck at Regatta Point