[Sub ID 4694] Paid internships for young students (Employment Plus)

Submission ID: 4694
Organisation name: Employment Plus
Contact name: Mr Paul Diviny
State: VIC
Contact email: paul_diviny@aep.salvationarmy.org
Contact number: 0439548368

Which priority group of the Try, Test and Learn Fund does your idea support?
Young students at risk of long-term unemployment

What need or issue are you trying to address?
Young people without relevant work experience, including those completing higher education, face particular challenges breaking into the workforce after completing their studies and are at risk of slipping into long term unemployment. In 2014-15, 392,000 young people were receiving student payments. In 20 years time, 3,000 of these are expected to be on income support even though 14% are expected to achieve a tertiary qualification.

When youth unemployment rates are high, students are often encouraged to focus on their studies and defer entry to the workforce until after they graduate. During a recent Employment Plus Employer Forum, our employers reported many young students lack useful work experience (application of so-called hard and soft skills) and that graduate expectations differ to labour market realities.

Students undertaking professional degrees traditionally seek paid or unpaid internships with professional firms. However, many young students lack business networks and support to secure similar opportunities to complete short-term, relevant work experience either as a component of, or concurrent with, their studies. Tertiary education institutions have limited connection with employment service providers (and their employer networks) to encourage undergraduate students on student payments to undertake practical work experience.

What is your idea?
Our proposed Internship program offers paid internships for summer/winter breaks, a full semester or full academic year. To qualify, young students must be on student payments as DSS modelling indicates they may be at risk of long term unemployment without adequate work experience.

The Internship program prerequisites include:
• Currently in second or third year of undergraduate studies, meeting the academic requirements;
• On student payments; and
• Completing a qualification with skills relevant to local industries experiencing skills or labour shortages.

Features of the program include:
• Student assessment by an employment services provider to identify experience and skills gaps;
• Job matching with employers that can offer complementary placements either through a labour hire agency or directly with the employer;
• Option to choose summer, winter, full semester or full academic year program (min 6 weeks);
• Available through any higher education institution (University, TAFE) offering degree programs;
• Workplace mentoring focussed on building resilience and employability skills of the young person; and
• Invitations to business and career networking events.

Benefits for students attending higher education institutions include:
• Gaining value work experience;
• Receiving exposure to industries in their chosen or related career;
• Earning a small wage; and
• Creating incentive to continue working part time or casually.