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How can we help young people Find Their Feet in the future of work?

The world of work is changing. Young people are being bombarded with negative messages about changing work. But while 40% of jobs will be automated in the future new opportunities are emerging, and in more interesting work than in the past. The industries that are growing require human touch, human thinking/problem solving, technology and/or creativity – skills many young people have.

So how can we help the young people you know get to good work?


We have created Find Their Feet - a different type of career event - supported by a website that help Year 8 to 10 students “find their feet” by encouraging them to:

- work out their interests and talents: what do they enjoy doing? what are they good at? They are likely to have some skills employers would be interested in. Many young people have never thought about this.

- explore opportunities related to those interests, particularly in industries they might not expect. For example, construction is moving towards large infrastructure projects like roads, that involve everything from trades, engineers and project managers, to graphic designers, communications and social media specialists, software and technology designers, partnership managers, community engagement officers, public at and landscapers, and video producers. Each requires different pathways. Finishing school still pays a premium – every extra year of school past Year 10 adds an extra 10 per cent to your young person’s lifetime earnings – but vocational pathways are just as smart.

- find work experience. Young people are disadvantaged in labour markets because they lack work experience. They can build a “track record” through a part time or casual job, courses, volunteering, coaching, things they create (running an event, performing in a play, etc) or shorter experiences of exposure to work. You can help by talking to your network about opportunities.


At our events young people and their parents reflect on their skills and interests, selecting an avatar (or two) that reflects something of who they are.

They then move into a colourful lit up City-Scape – where employers and entrepreneurs from the region ask them about their interests and talk to them about opportunities in their industries. Young people can also ask them questions about their journey, or for other advice. Everyone is encouraged to talk to people they might not think are relevant at first.

Young people get to see that they can have conversations with people they don't know. Because the employers were from the area, contacts were also made. Many employers were reporting real shortages in their industries and were therefore genuinely keen to connect with potential future employees.


On the way out, young people told us:

1. they loved the conversations and found them inspiring (and parents thought it was a better style of careers event for younger people).

2. they were amazed there were so many opportunities out there. One young woman interested in aged care told me she didn’t realise how many places nursing could take her, and she “had a lot to go away and report to her friends”.

3. that they see there are a lot of different pathways – and all are good. Some young people would be better pursuing more practical courses to Year 12 because they would be more enjoyable, and would get them where they wanted to be.

The best thing was that young people left feeling hopeful. That will definitely help them to find their feet.

Find Their Feet was created for a partnership between eight of the North of Melbourne’s largest employer and education institutions: Melbourne Polytechnic, Central Ranges Local Learning and Employment Network, NorthLink, La Trobe University, Banyule and Nilumbik Local Learning and Employment Network, Australian Centre for Career Education, Hume Whittlesea Local Learning and Employment Network and the Inner Northern Local Learning and Employment Network. The experience was designed by Zoe Mars The project attracted Victorian Government funding and three practice events have been run in October 2018 to create a model that can toured around Victorian schools next year.

Leigh A & Ryan C (2008) Estimating returns to education using different natural experiment techniques. Economics of Education Review. 27: 149-1560. ANU: Canberra

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