Northern Futures is a non-governmental organization located in the city of Geelong, Australia. The organization is a collaborative partnership between members of the community including government, business, schools and community groups who are working together to identify opportunities for improved economy, jobs and education and training for the northern suburbs of Geelong. The unemployment rate in the northern suburbs of Geelong is 9.9%, which is almost double the 5.8% general unemployment rate in Australia.
The Northern Futures program will consist of three components:
I. Workforce Readiness and Counseling:
Northern Futures will engage participants in a program called “Getting Ahead” which focuses on helping future participants get ready for the certified training courses and work placements. Getting Ahead is a program for people in poverty that shows them how to use the hidden rules of class to build up financial, emotional, social, and other resources. Understanding the hidden rules of the middle class and wealth, and choosing to use them, can open doors to new relationships, new jobs, and higher resources. The program is designed to be used as an investigation tool by people working in groups with a trained facilitator. The participants explore the impact that poverty has had on them, investigate economic realities, complete a self-assessment of their own resources, make plans to build their own resources, and develop a mental model of community prosperity. This program will teach participants the expected professional skills such as arriving to time management, appropriate work attire and etiquette. In addition, Northern Futures staff will teach participants communications skills and are taught the importance of being able to give and receive constructive feedback while also guided on the art of negotiation. Participants are also supported in understanding the importance of team work and the most appropriate way to successfully work in a team. Northern Futures will ensure that all program participants attend and complete the “Getting Ahead” program to ensure they are workplace ready for their internship.
II. Paid Internships:
Northern Futures will rely on its partnerships with local businesses in the Geelong community to place the 25 young participants in internships with its partners for a period of 6 to 8 weeks. Northern Futures will also provide the participants with the appropriate education and training for their internship.
III. Career Planning and Placement:
Northern Futures will provide ongoing professional support for all of its education and training participants by supporting them for the duration of their accredited training courses and 12 months after graduation. In addition, Northern Futures match program participants with mentors for the duration of their internship as well as for three months post internship. The work with their mentor post internship will include career planning for the young participant. Northern Futures will work with the participant to identify the areas of their internship that reflected their interest and the parts that didn’t spark their ambition. It will be based on this mentoring discussion and career planning that Northern Futures will identify the appropriate accredited training course to assist the young participant to acquire ongoing employment.
Caitlin began her internship at Accredited Distributors, an Industry partner of Northern Futures (NF). She is a very shy young girl who has lived in supportive youth housing. NF decided that Accredited Distributors was best suited for Caitlin as it is a company based in regional towns throughout the State of Victoria, staff size being around 12. Accredited Distributors offer site visits to NF and have employed graduates before. The manager set up training tasks that the supervisor could guide Caitlin to learn in her six weeks with them. These training tasks were designed to help Caitlin acquire the necessary skills and be able to apply for warehouse positions after the internship.
Each week NF visited Caitlin at work. Over time, her skill set and confidence grew. One week she was picking and packing with a scanner and the next week she was driving a forklift and unloading a truck. Caitlin was also taught about ordering spreadsheets and had the opportunity to do an order over the phone.
In late March, NF celebrated Caitlin’s end of internship and graduation from the program, with the announcement that she had been selected to participate in a 12 month full time employment project called 180 Degrees at Cotton On Group Distribution Centre, an Australian clothing retail with almost 1200 stores in 12 countries, and 17,000 employees worldwide. Caitlin began her position at the warehouse of the Cotton on Group Distribution Centre on April 3, 2014. She is currently utilizing all of the skills acquired during her internship.
Caitlin’s participation in Alcoa Foundation’s Internship for Unemployed Youth has prepared Caitlin for her next step in her employment journey and provided her with social collateral which will assist her to be successful in life.
Interns from Showerline and Cotton On share their experiences with the program in the below video.