Beacon bucking the trend

A NATIONAL report has found non-profit organisation Beacon, working across Gippsland schools, is “bucking the youth unemployment trend”.

Figures in the Beacon Foundation’s national outcomes report showed the organisation was making “massive inroads’ with student retention and employment and training pathways, according to Beacon chief executive Scott Harris.

Locally, Beacon works predominantly with year 10 students in six Gippsland schools, including Traralgon College and Trafalgar High School.

Mr Harris said the most recent outcomes report showed Beacon’s results from its work with about 14,000 students in more than 115 communities around Australia, consistently outstripped national averages.

One of Beacon’s federally-funded initiatives – Real Futures Generation – had recently matched 114 students, nationally, into jobs, apprenticeships and traineeships, he said.

Mr Harris said Beacon aimed to increase student aspirations, skills and opportunities through linking schools with businesses and the community.

He said youth unemployment remained one of Australia’s greatest issues, with jobless figures almost three times higher than the national rate.

“At the start of 2013, teenage unemployment in Australia was recorded at 17.8 per cent – that means more than 150,000 15 to 19 year olds were looking for work,” he said.

“Yet figures released this week as part of the Beacon Foundation’s National Outcomes Report show the percentage of students at Beacon schools who are not in education and are looking for full work post year 10, 0.3 per cent, is almost 10 times lower than the national rate for 16 to 17 year-olds from low SES (socio-economic status) communities, at 3.2 per cent.”

Backed by a long list of national corporate partners, Beacon focused on young people who were “particularly vulnerable or marginalised from the labour market,” Mr Harris said.

“Social background is a significant factor contributing to school and labour market success and Beacon focuses the majority of its work in low socio economic areas.”

He said the outcomes report also found despite 83 per cent of Beacon schools being located in low SES communities, Beacon students were more likely to be employed or studying full time after completing year 10 than the average 16 to 17 year-old from similar backgrounds.

“96.8 per cent of Beacon students were still in education nine months after completing year 10, 14.9 per cent higher than the national average,” he said.

Mr Harris said the report was “a strong endorsement for the strength of the Beacon program and the power of linking business and industry with schools”.