It Takes a Village: Bringing At-Risk and Unemployed Youth into the Workforce Ecosystem

We at JobGetter are really excited (and proud) to be chosen to help set the standard for effectively tackling youth unemployment through the NSW Youth Employment Innovation Challenge. Understanding the challenges people face getting into work and then problem-solving with technology to bring a community together to solve it is what we do best!

What is the Youth Employment Innovation Challenge?

The NSW Department of Industry and the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation launched the Youth Employment Innovation Challenge to seek out innovative solutions and ideas that support young people to find employment in NSW, with a focus on regional areas.

The goal of the Innovation Challenge is to develop projects that investigate, design and implement better ways of helping young people with multiple and complex barriers to find work.

The target group the Challenge is seeking to help young people who are: 

  • 15 – 24 years old
  • In at-risk groups
  • Early school leavers or disengaged from school
  • Not in education, employment or training
  • Not receiving income support payments or under any other Commonwealth program 

Specifically, the Government and selected participants are seeking solutions that address the following:

  • How can we develop and promote clearer pathways, so young people can make informed decisions about their employment options?
  • How can we better connect young people and employers, so that they are the right fit for each other?
  • How can we bring employers on the journey to create more youth inclusive work environments?
  • How can we assist young people who have transport barriers to access training and employment opportunities?
  • How can we enable young people to identify their skills and for employers recognise those skills?

The Challenge of Youth Employment

High youth unemployment hampers economic growth and can have a negative effect on a person’s future. Youth is an important time for choosing a career, gaining and developing skills, establishing an identity and obtaining independence.

Unfortunately, youth unemployment remains a persistent issue, particularly as unemployed youth form a large proportion of the total unemployed population. Regional youth unemployment rates remain high across NSW, with a number of regions recording unemployment rates above the state average (highlighted in the image below).

Source: ABS cat. No. 6291.0.55.001 Labour Force, Australia, Detailed – Electronic Delivery, Oct 2017

There are a multitude of causes for the sustained level of youth unemployment, but the impact is felt greatest by young people considered at risk or already experiencing long-term unemployment. At-risk group categories include young people with a disability, First Australians, those with caring responsibilities, young people from low socio-economic communities and those with low educational attainment.

Many young people also experience individual barriers to employment, such as limited access to transport or education, drug and alcohol abuse or unstable housing that may increase their risk of unemployment. 

JobGetter’s Solution: It Takes a Village – Bringing At-Risk and Unemployed Youth Into The Workforce Ecosystem

At JobGetter, our day revolves around turning job seekers into JobGetters. The business was founded by frustrated job seekers so we know, first hand, how hard it can be to secure employment.

Today, JobGetter is Australia’s premier platform for job seekers. We also run the country’s biggest annual job seeker survey so we understand the challenges people face getting into work.

We’re especially passionate about Australia’s youth because we understand that a job is more than a pay cheque.  It’s about self esteem, a network and a purpose — all of which is important especially to young people to prevent them falling through the cracks.

For many of us, work is part of our life cycle. We get a job, we learn skills, then we apply for better jobs. We orbit around the world of work, increasing our skill sets and our employability.

But there are people who never get into that orbit in the first place. Our mission is to bring them in.

Unemployment costs Australia $3B a year. Skills atrophy costs the country another $5.6B. 

While unemployment imposes significant costs on the country as a whole, the cost for the individual – particularly our youth – are often life altering. For those young people who can’t get into the workforce ecosystem, it could mean a lifetime of avoidable setbacks that hinder them from ever reaching their full potential.

youth-circle-influence-jobgetterThe opportunity JobGetter sees is that at-risk youth have people that orbit around them — friends, parents, teachers and others who can influence them.

Founded in 2011, JobGetter has built the perfect foundation to bring these people in and reach more young people.

Recognised as one of the top HR tech companies to watch, JobGetter’s existing technology does much more than simply match people to jobs. We’ve built the only platform in the world that provides personalised feedback identifying skills gaps on every single job application so job seekers can change their outcome.

JobGetter also streamlines the recruitment process for businesses making it easier and more effective than a sign in the window.

With this opportunity, we can take our existing technology and continue to innovate, drawing in these influencers to reach more at risk youth.

Not just a “jobs” solution, JobGetter’s winning proposal is a holistic solution that targets the problem of at-risk youth from a number of angles to provide information and pathways for transitions to, and retention in, education, training and employment​ which promotes dignity, wellbeing and social inclusion​ for people who may be outside of the existing workforce and education ecosystem.

This involves:

  • Incentivising employers to hire young people
  • Leveraging influencers to reach, engage and encourage at-risk youth
  • Inspiring, advising and informing them with content that speaks to them on mobile devices
  • Increasing access so a digital divide doesn’t become a skills divide.

While the common way to refer to youth outside of the workforce and education ecosystem is “at risk’, we prefer to call them “at opportunity” because there is an opportunity to pull them into orbit by going to back to grass roots and capturing them where they are in both the real and the digital world. Once we have their attention, we have the opportunity to show them what can be – and what their options are – and in a way that speaks to their key motivations and what matters to them most. 

We can inspire, advice and inform these “at opportunity” youth by showing them the options available to them, inspiring them with real stories of people just like them, by influencing their peer groups and, in short, showing them what they want – which could be a combination of things – travel, money, freedom, possessions, pride in a job well done, their desire for friends (building their social network offline), security, a future – and, most importantly, how to get it.

By creating a technology-based workforce and education ecosystem that the whole community is incentivised to participate in we can reach more at-risk youth to bring them into orbit.

With these changes we’re directly tackling the NEET rate; that is, the rate of young people who are “Not in Education, Employment, or Training”. We believe we can get at least 2% of at-risk young people into either education or employment in regional NSW.

In fact, we’ve done it before.

With JobGetter’s technology as the foundation, we worked with a range of community partners, employers, service providers, ambassadors and the local media to help the GPT group fill over 2,200 jobs in their expanded shopping centre. In just a week, we had 3,000 people registered on the platform – and 7,000 within a month. 

Within six months, we had helped reduce the unemployment rate by a full 1% in the Illawarra area.

As preparation for the Youth Employment Challenge, we surveyed a number of local Governments about their challenges with youth employment in their areas. Early indications are that 60% of participants felt that youth employment was a big issue for them with another 20% saying it was an issue.

Interestingly, 80% of those surveyed said that they lacked initiatives to adequately deal with youth employment issues. Of the 20% that had initiatives, 50% said that they were ineffective while another 50% said that they still had challenges.

The top two challenges that Local Government saw was the lack of adequate career guidance and the actual disengagement of youth. Our proposal, we believe, has remedies for both of those – as well as many other challenges that will not only address youth unemployment but positively impact all job seekers.

The most popular suggestions for remedies for some of these problems were better connectedness around jobs and information about the right skills required to be developed to get the jobs that exist – solutions to both of which are contained in our strategy.

JobGetter’s BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal): Bring the Village Together to Set the Standard for Tackling Youth Employment

We cannot get more young people into work without employers willing to hire them. JobGetter currently has a national network of over 5,500 employers, and we partner with organisations such as TAFE, Westfield, Stockland and Vicinity centres, Beacon Foundation, and innovative companies like CareerHQ because we understand that collaboration is the key to solving this problem.

We’ve built awesome technology that helps people get jobs but our next frontier is to become the catalyst for the creation of one single workforce and education ecosystem.

We believe in a future that sees every young Australian given the same support and opportunity to realise their full potential.

To do that, it takes a village. JobGetter is the platform that brings that village together.

With your support, we look forward to setting the standard in tackling youth employment for the rest of the country.


How You Can Play a Part

Over the next two years, we’ll be working with community leaders, Universities, TAFE and colleges, businesses, local councils, job agencies and young people themselves to create centres of influence to advise, engage, inform and excite young people about jobs and, most importantly, how to get them.

If you think you can help play a part — we’d love to hear from you. 

Specifically, we’re looking for:

Local Government — Visionary council leaders who’d love to pilot the solution with us in your LGA. We know what it takes to pull a community together — strong leadership.

Training Organisations — Outcome-focused educators eager to work with us to train young people in the skills employers are hiring on so your students can transition from study to work as quickly as possible. 

Schools — We’re searching for forward-thinking Principals, Deputy Principals, Career Advisors, Welfare Officers and Teachers who are passionate about helping young adults discover the jobs that best suit them and facilitating the first steps on their career path. We also want to help you engage those students most at risk of disengaging as well as those that already have because it’s never too late. 

Job Active Providers & Job Service Agencies — We’re looking to collaborate with agencies to help place your candidates into the right roles faster, provide valuable feedback about their job applications as well as to access real-time data about job demand and your candidate outcomes.

Employers — We cannot get more young people into work without employers willing to hire them. But, we understand that not every business can offer that opportunity so we’re asking employers for their support in whatever capacity they can: 

Words of advice from you / your team

What advice would you/ your team members share with someone who fits this profile?
Is there anyone on team who was in a similar situation once and has personal experience they could relate to? 

Make a pledge

For example, LUSH hires 500-600 casuals in Western Sydney to assist with manufacturing in the lead up to Christmas every year and they’re opening those roles to this cohort and actively welcoming them to apply. Could you make a similar pledge to open your organisation to applicants from this cohort? Even if it’s only 1 job or even just a work experience opportunity, giving someone that opportunity could make all the difference. 

Share your story/a story

You were once 15-24 years old. We want to share your story of when you were in this age bracket and where you are now. Be a relatable inspiration to young people today. Be someone they can learn from. We want to know who you were, your fears, your goals, your mentors, your missteps. What was the best and worst career advice you ever received? 

No story is too small. Whether it’s a “how I got here” story or a “from hardship to hero” story, you could have a huge impact on a young person’s life simply by sharing a few words about your own journey. And, if not your story, recommend someone else who you think has a great story to share. 

Become a “Youth Friendly Employer” by securing Youth Ambassador Referrals

Just like you ask for a potential hire’s references, we’re looking for your own references from young people (under 24yo) who have worked for you. Just a few words or a full Q&A, we want these Youth Ambassadors to share, in their own words, what their jobs involve, what they like/dislike, their advice to others, and so on. This content will help give other young people a reference they can relate to and provide a backstage pass into what means to be involved in the workforce ecosystem.

Parents — We’re building functionality into JobGetter specifically designed to help you help your working-age children (and friends’ children) so if you’re interested in beta-testing these new features and providing your valuable feedback insights, please get in touch.

Workers/Peers — Are you 15-24 years old and working? If so, We’d love to speak to you! In our opinion, you are the most powerful influencer in an at-risk youth’s circle of influence. Help us inspire others in your age bracket by sharing in your own words what your job involves, what you like/dislike, how you got your job, why you work, your advice, insights and more. This content will help give other young people a reference they can relate to and provide a backstage pass into what means to be involved in the workforce ecosystem. 

Partners — Long term, sustainable employment outcomes require a multi-pronged solution that brings all players into one collaborative platform. If you are a like-minded organisation or individual and would like to work together to set the standard for how to tackle youth unemployment, we would love to hear from you. 

Interested? Please click here to reach out and connect…


We are looking forward to working with some very impressive people and organisations tackling youth employment all around NSW, including:

Regional Development Australia – Mid North Coast
BackTrack Youth Works (check out their amazing video below!)
Wentworth Community Housing
Green Connect
Home Care Heroes – Pop Culture & Careers

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