Our young people need us – and we need them – more than ever

Tasmania’s Premier Peter Gutwein recently stated that COVID19 presents “the greatest threat our State and our Country have faced in generations”.

Quite rightly, the focus of our governments over the last few weeks has been on responding to the immediate threat that this virus presents to the health of our community, and on ensuring that we do everything we can flatten the curve. I particularly congratulate Premier Gutwein for the great example he has set for our State: he has provided clear and determined leadership and has helped galvanise us as Tasmanians during this significant time of adversity.

As we all work together to combat the short-term threat of this virus, however, we must also remember the longer-term threat that this pandemic, and our response to it, could pose to the futures of Tasmania’s young people.

Having helped connect young people to education and employment for over 30 years, the Beacon Foundation is particularly aware of the risks that these perilous circumstances present to our youth.

Thousands of students have already begun learning from home. This has required parents to become overnight learning supervisors and placed massive pressure on schools and teachers to deliver remote learning, while still teaching some students on-campus. If we do not find ways to clearly guide learners through this unprecedented disruption, we risk thousands of students disengaging from education.

While this pandemic has already had a devasting impact on many in our community and resulted in enormous changes that all of us continue to come to terms with, it will also radically reshape the already rapidly changing future careers of our children. If we do not help prepare young people for this future, we risk creating a lost generation.

It is clear that now, more than ever, our young people need all of us – particularly industry and organisations like Beacon – to step up and work with them to make their futures as bright and secure as possible.

This is a challenge that the Beacon Foundation is taking on, and that we want others to take on with us. Drawing on our successful track record of working with over 10,000 Australian young people through online careers guidance, we are already working on ways to ramp up our online programs for school students.

Our Beacon team is at its best when it is working with like-minded partners to innovate and respond quickly to the emerging needs of young people. Our current approach is a great example of that. We are currently working on with several collaborative partners to produce a suite of online resources that will be launched at the beginning of Term 2.

It is clear, though, that this is just the beginning – there is still so much more that will need to be done to ensure we do not leave our young people behind. We will need brave hearts and bold thinking, and we stand ready to partner with schools, governments, businesses, and other not-for-profits – as well as our hundreds of online mentors and volunteers – to do this work. Indeed, we believe that with the right partners in place, young learners could lead us in generating the ideas we need to respond to and recover from the impact of COVID19.

We also know the burden of these challenges will fall particularly heavily on young people experiencing disadvantage. In 2016, over 6,500 Tasmanian households with children stated that they did not have access to the internet. How do we support students in these families to engage in remote learning? On any given night, over 400 young Tasmanians will be experiencing homelessness. At such a challenging time, how do we meet the significant, complex needs of these young people, including supporting them to remain engaged in education?

Beacon’s Collective ed. initiative, which began in 2016, has already been working with six Tasmanian school communities – in Ulverstone, Deloraine, George Town, Jordan River, Clarence Plains and Sorell – to understand and address these types of important questions. Using a collective impact approach, we are empowering our partner communities to take control over decisions about what happens in their local areas, including how resources are used to support young people. We’ve helped to establish Community Leadership Tables made up of students, teachers, parents, schools, businesses and local organisations, and we are supporting these groups to start identifying and breaking down the complex, systemic barriers that are preventing many young people from thriving.

Our major Collective ed. partners – the Tasmanian Government and the Paul Ramsay Foundation – showed great courage in enabling this radical new approach to education and to community-based decision-making. We believe that this powerful approach is going to be more critical than ever in supporting communities to respond to and recover from this crisis.
As challenges emerge for our partner communities in the coming weeks and months, our Collective ed. teams will be supporting our six partner communities – particularly the young leaders within them – to identify and coordinate collaborative efforts in each local area. We would also welcome the opportunity to help other Tasmanian communities to use collective impact and systems change approaches as well. In listening to and collaborating with young people on these decisions, we are likely to find our most powerful and successful solutions.

This is a hugely challenging time for our government, and there are many immediate threats that they need to focus on. When they can, however, I implore our leaders to consider how to ensure young people can thrive during and after this crisis, and how Tasmania’s not-for-profit sector can be called on to help.

For our communities and ourselves as families and individuals, our focus has been on how to keep ourselves safe and healthy. In times like this – as we were often reminded not so long ago, when commercial flight was taken for granted – we must fit our own oxygen mask first, before assisting others. Once we have done what we can to protect ourselves and our families, however, we must begin considering how we can help those around us. There is only so much that the authorities can do on our behalf: the rest will come down to the solidarity and commitment we have towards each other.

Social distancing has limited the ways we can reach out to others, but there is still so much we can do together to support each other and to make a difference. Keep focussed on staying safe and well, but when you can: consider what you can do to ensure a bright future for our young people, and what role you can play to empower young people to build that future. If you want to be an online careers mentor; if you want to find a way to use your resources to support young people; if you want to support our communities to take locally-led action in responding to this crisis – reach out to us. We’re here to help.

Scott Harris is the CEO of the Beacon Foundation

Kingston High School Students Opportunity of a Lifetime

Students from Kingston High School participated in a Beacon High Impact Program this week which was delivered in partnership with the Sohn Hearts & Minds.

The program provided students with the opportunity to hear from mentors from the business and finance world who participated in a panel discussion, networking lunch and other career readiness activities.

Job-ready students set up for the workforce after year-long program

Thirty high school students are getting a taste of hospitality life in a program to boost workforce attraction in the tourism and hospitality sector and provide real-world job training for young people.

Students from Bayview Secondary College and Kingston High School are getting on-the-job insights at a special visit to Wrest Point today, as part of a career readiness training program run by the Beacon Foundation.

Beacon shines light on local job opportunities with Bell Bay Aluminium

Beacon Foundation is partnering with Bell Bay Aluminium to inspire students and create a job-ready generation of Tasmanians.

A new $100,000 three year partnership between the two organisations is set to help students in Years 9-12 become aware of opportunities for operational, trades, engineering, technical and leadership careers within the advanced manufacturing sector.

Beacon connecting students with growth industries to create a job-ready generation

Beacon is working with some of Tasmania’s fastest growing industries to inspire students through their Growth Industry Preparation Program (or GrIPP).

Beacon CEO, Scott Harris, said the program aimed to create a win-win situation, where growing businesses are able to showcase their industry and young Tasmanians are able to see and understand their options for getting a great job.

High impact program for job-ready students hits Burnie

Beacon Foundation (Beacon) is working with local North-West businesses to inspire students and create a job-ready generation of Tasmanians.

Beacon CEO, Scott Harris, said representatives from building and construction, engineering and environmental consulting businesses were spending today working with Burnie High School students to get excited about finding a job they love in some of the State’s fastest growing sectors.

Beacon and Blundstone connecting local community for student success

Beacon Foundation is committed to creating a job-ready generation by giving young Tasmanians a taste of the job opportunities available to them once they finish school.

Beacon Foundation have once again partnered with Blundstone Australia to deliver work readiness programs targeted to Tasmanian students in Years 9-12.

To create a job-ready generation, we need to work together to light the way for young Tasmanians.

There has been a gradual, yet noticeable shift in Tasmania over the past ten years.  A decade ago Tasmania’s economy was lagging.  Regardless of the measure Tasmania was almost invariably dead last compared to other states.

Yet, over the past decade Tasmania has managed to pull itself up by the bootstraps.  The change has been steady, methodical and led by the private sector supported by governments of different hues at both the state and federal level.

High Impact program for job-ready students hits Ulverstone

Beacon is working with local North-West businesses to inspire students and create a job-ready generation of Tasmanians.

Beacon CEO, Scott Harris, said representatives from Elphinstone, Forico, Council on the Aging (COTA), Flourish and West by North-West were spending today helping Ulverstone Secondary College students get excited about finding a job they love in some of the State’s fastest growing industries.

Federal Group a Beacon for employment opportunities

Students from Bayview Secondary College and Kingston High School were given a peek behind the curtain of MACq 01 Hotel and The Henry Jones Art Hotel in a bid to inspire a new generation of tourism and hospitality professionals.

North West business leaders a Beacon to Burnie High students

Beacon is working with local North-West businesses to inspire students and create a job-ready generation of Tasmanians.

Beacon CEO, Scott Harris, said representatives from advanced manufacturing, agriculture, education and mining businesses were spending today helping Burnie High School students get excited about finding a job they love in some of the State’s fastest growing sectors.