Today over 100 local representatives met at the Sunshine Coast Business Council’s Youth Prosperity Forum to tackle the over 17 per cent youth unemployment rate in the region and to secure commitment from government and the business community to take responsibility for the issue.
Sunshine Coast Business Council Chair Sandy Zubrinich said the Business Council was delighted with the level of commitment shown by the local employers, community leaders and Sunshine Coast youths who attended the half-day forum.
“In order to address such a significant issue, we need to be united in our approach and this forum enabled us to discuss strategies to help keep the next generation on the Coast,” Ms Zubrinich said.
“The reality is that if we do not create opportunities, our youth will continue to move to the cities and our local economy will suffer in the long run. This is not just about keeping our kids employed locally; it’s about providing a sustainable business environment for the future.”
“Everyone agreed that representatives from today’s group should continue meet on a half yearly basis to monitor youth unemployment and the employment scene generally to ensure the initiatives that are being implemented by government, business and community organisations are having an impact. We’re putting out the call for local businesses to create mentoring opportunities for our youth to provide on-the-job training and to give them the valuable business skills they need to secure employment. We understand there are some obstacles for business in doing this but most are probably able to be worked through.”
Local Employment Coordinator, Kris McCue said there were a number of initiatives available for businesses to take advantage of in regard to youth employment.
“Businesses are able to provide work experience for young people under a number of programs and initiatives which meet employer’s legal obligations under relevant legislation. There are also incentives available to businesses to employ young people that assist with supervision and other costs,” Mr McCue said.
Jade Frieser, a youth representative from the Sunshine Coast Youth Partnership, provided feedback from the Youth Partnership Summit at today’s forum and highlighted the difficulties those leaving school and tertiary institutions were having in securing employment on the Coast.
“Most young people who live locally want to stay on the Coast to take advantage of the great lifestyle we have and to be close to friends and family – leaving for Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney is often not a choice but rather a necessity,” Ms Frieser said.
“It’s really positive to see so many influential Sunshine Coast leaders come together to hear about the social, medial and economic issues that result from high youth unemployment. This was not a forum to develop strategies but one to highlight the state of play for our youths and take collective responsibility as a community to help improve the situation going forward.”
The Sunshine Coast Business Council hosted today’s forum with the aim to encourage initiatives by local businesses to help address the issue.
“If local businesses can take the youth employment issue into account in their future planning we can move to a more sustainable workforce in the future. An excellent example of this is the recent launch of The Work Shop, a training and recruitment centre on the construction site of the Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital.”
The Work Shop is a partnership between The Hornery Institute, Lend Lease and the Sunshine Coast Council, and aims to directly provide 600 jobs for local long-term unemployed, over the three years of construction. “This initiative demonstrates how local business, government and those close to the coal-face can get together to directly tackle the issue and we hope today’s forum acted as the catalyst for more of these types of programs in the future.”
“We look forward to briefing local, state and federal politicians on the outcomes of today’s forum and we are confident that with everyone coming on board, we can work towards lowering this concerning statistic.”
The forum also included presentations by keynote speaker, David Rumbens from Deloitte Access Economics and Kylee Bates from Mission Australia who offered a national perspective.
For those wanting to get involved in future roundtables please contact Kris McCue on 0408 074 001. For a mentoring program call Sustainable Youth Australia on 07 5479 0070.