A youth solution in the twin towns

By Charmayne Allison

YOUTH pathways and connection to industry are the key priorities for the future economic development of Echuca-Moama.

This was Committee for Echuca Moama (C4EM) chief executive Nina O’Brien’s key message to the National Youth Commissioner Major David Eldridge, who hosted the first of many regional hearings across Australia in Moama recently.

The hearings facilitated community-wide consultation to build a reform agenda for education and the preparation and support of young people for work into the future.

“With a projected growth of 8.6 per cent in the 12-24 age demographic in Campaspe Shire alone; the importance of supporting young people into sustainable work and education is crucial,’’ Ms O’Brien said.

‘‘Both Year 12 and university attainment levels are well below the national average in the local region.

‘‘With the gradual professionalism of the workforce and reduction in the number of unskilled jobs, it is now more important than ever to support young people to stay at school, gain qualifications and transition into sustainable employment.’’

C4EM presented a range of data at the hearing detailing issues and solutions to youth engagement and industry partnership through:

■ Increasing the profile of trades.

■ Profiling local industry to parents.

■ Increasing numeracy and literacy of young people.

■ Promoting females in non-traditional occupations.

■ Encouraging local VET industry placement.

■ Evidence-based research to understand skills demand.

■ Online platforms to promote local jobs, industry and professional development.

■ Addressing cross border issues of government funded programs.

■ Community leadership.

■ Business management support.

C4EM member Dean Oberin of the American Hotel, a leading local employer of young people with 70 per cent of staff aged under 25, provided a first-hand employer’s perspective.

‘‘The key attributes we look for is communication skills, a willingness to be flexible, and a genuine interest in people — the rest we can teach,’’ he said.

‘‘Young people are dynamic, create energy and form an important part of our success in business.’’

The National Youth Commission heard from a wide range of other community organisations such as Echuca Specialist School, Campaspe Cohuna LLEN, CVGT’s Transition to Work program, the Careers Teachers’ Network, Campaspe Shire Council, Echuca Moama Beacon Foundation and Bendigo TAFE.

The Commission is posting updates on their website and social media as the hearings progress.