A local youth work-readiness training program is making some inroads into the region’s youth unemployment with three of its current intake of 14 already gaining full-time work.
The young people will tomorrow (November 24) graduate from the YWCA NSW’s Community in the Kitchen (CITK) program with a Certificate II in Rural Operations. The program has been specifically designed to help address barriers to employment in the Northern Rivers region.
Levi, 24, from South Lismore was unemployed when he started the program. Next month he will start full time work at Freshzest at Caniaba, where he did his work experience as part of the program.
Andrew, 16, from Jiggi, who had left school, has found work on a local market garden and stone fruit farm as a result of the program. He has been studying his Rural Operations Certificate and working at the farm on the days he is not on campus.
Lismore-based YWCA NSW program co-ordinator, Brooke Cunningham, said the program is delivered in collaboration with North Coast Institute of TAFE and YWCA NSW. It is free to participants through the generous funding by the Greater Building Society's Greater Charitable Foundation.
Ms Cunningham says one of the reasons the program has been so successful since its inception in 2007 is because it focuses on the skills that local employers say they need. She says with youth unemployment as high as 17.9% in the Richmond –Tweed Valley, programs such as these are critical.
For the past 18 weeks, participants aged between 15 and 24, have completed a Certificate II in Rural Operations, 40 hours work experience with local employers, as well as life skills workshops in areas such as communication, teamwork, resilience, employer expectations, apprenticeship pathways, employment options, stress management techniques and budgeting.
“Through Community in the Kitchen we are giving young people the practical and critical skills to set them up for farm, nursery, bush regeneration or agricultural jobs,” Ms Cunningham says.
The Greater Charitable Foundation has provided $245,000 to enable the program to be delivered over the past two years. The Greater Building Society’s Lismore branch manager, Vanessa Restall, and Casino branch manager, Jenny Read, will present certificates to the graduates at the graduation.
Ms Restall says The Greater, through its Foundation, was giving back to the community in a practical way by helping young people to get employment.
“Jobs for our young people are so critical to their future and our region’s future,” Ms Restall says.
In the first half of the year the program focuses on hospitality skills. Expressions of Interest for that program will open in January 2016. For more information contact Brooke Cunningham at the YWCA NSW on 6625 5805.