Youth unemployment is a significant issue across Australia, particularly in Queensland’s Wide Bay region, which is home to CoAct member Impact Community Services. To help combat the rise in youth unemployment, and to encourage greater community engagement, the team at Impact recently began hosting casual BBQ events for jobseekers and local employers.
Held in the Impact offices on a Friday afternoon, the Thank God it’s Friday (TGIF) BBQs are a chance for jobseekers to meet with potential employers in a casual, stress-free environment. One employer is chosen for each event, and they give a short presentation about their business and the things they look for when recruiting staff. After that, everyone is invited to mingle and feel free to introduce themselves to the employer’s staff, and ask any questions they may have.
“It’s a chance for young people to see the employer’s staff as ‘ordinary people’,” explains Impact’s Transition to Work Team Leader, Laura Bray. “It’s a great environment for young jobseekers, because there are no barriers – they can ask whatever they want.”
And it seems the TGIF BBQs are not just yielding results for individual jobseekers. In June this year, Bundaberg Sugar’s HR Manager and Refinery Manager attended a BBQ, and were so impressed with Impact’s approach to helping young people, they invited a number of the organisation’s jobseekers on a special site visit.
“We had ten jobseekers do a site visit of Bundaberg Sugar’s packing shed,” says Bray. “Two of the managers walked us through the site, explaining each machine and its part in the packing process. We also got to see the command centre and fridge rooms. All the way along, our jobseekers asked questions of the managers, and they seemed really engaged in the tour.”
Just a few weeks later Bundaberg Sugar got in contact again, saying they wanted to keep the relationship with Impact going. They offered two young jobseekers a work experience placement. “A two week work experience placement might not seem like much,” says Bray, “But in order to place a work experience participant we need to carry out a risk assessment of the site. It’s a lot of work, but opportunities like this very often lead to employment.”
The two work experience participants got hands-on skills training with the team in the packing shed, and received great feedback from the Refinery Manager. Following the work experience, one of the participants is now registered through a labour hire company and receiving full time hours (and loving it)!
As part of Impact’s role, this individual is also receiving dedicated post-placement support. Of this additional service, Bray says: “It’s a way to make sure they’re settling in and making sure everyone is benefiting from the placement. We go above and beyond to make sure there are no issues, and if anything arises, we are on hand to address it straight away.”
Bundaberg Sugar and Impact are now planning another TGIF BBQ and potential group site visit in a few months’ time.
“Businesses like Bundaberg Sugar rely really heavily on labour hire companies for staff. Unfortunately for this area’s young people, their age and background are often barriers to registering with labour hire companies, and they are simply not given a chance to prove themselves. We’ve been able to open that door for them, and for Bundaberg Sugar it means they have access to the wage subsidies and other incentives that come from hiring participants in Government-funded programs,” Bray says.