Job readiness workshops build confidence for the future workforce

A key objective of the Educational Pathways Program is to instil students with the skills and confidence to make the most of their post-school futures. One of the program initiatives that is furthering this outcome is the Job readiness workshops. These workshops provide students with practical tips to help them land their first job, and inspire them to explore rewarding vocational career pathways.

Do you remember how it felt applying for your first job? Nerves, fear and excitement combining in the pit of your stomach to form a jumble of butterflies. For students today, the experience is eerily similar - coupled with the pressures of navigating a technologically-laden, post-COVID work environment.

That’s where the Job readiness workshops come in. The EDGE workshops are an example, currently delivered on site in schools by Sharna Dawson, covering everything from interview tips to grooming and wardrobe advice, helping students prepare for their first jobs and building the skills and confidence to make the most of their post-school futures.

As described by initiative co-lead Jacqui Biro (Project Officer), the workshops are designed to “give the students a taste of what pathways are out there and the expectations employers have.” Aimed towards Year 10 students, the workshops provide practical tips and advice on how to apply for employment - from how to look professional, to how to network and ways to introduce themselves to prospective employers.

At the core of the workshops is a simple idea - students are given the opportunity to grow their confidence.

Many students have the practical or technical skills that a job requires, but it’s the lack of confidence in approaching people that Jacqui says is often stopping them from applying for a job. “In the workshops they’re learning the importance of soft skills and transferable skills and how to identify those that they already have,” says Jacqui.

Jacqui goes on to add that sometimes learning how to embrace their inner confidence must come from outside sources. “It's one thing having your teacher tell you, but if you have someone external come and say the same thing – and have actual employers there reemphasizing it – it’s going to stick.”

With the expansion of the program’s reach, the Job readiness workshops also extended their delivery to new regions across the state. While the overall content and structure of the workshops remains generally consistent, the program’s geographical expansion has resulted in the workshops being tailored to the local industry landscape in which they are delivered.

“We have RIEP (Regional Industry Education Partnerships) officers in each region, so there'll be different employers networking and offering advice at each region’s workshops,” Jacqui explains.

Feedback about the workshops from schools and local communities has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The students are loving it and are super keen to get involved,” says Jacqui.

“Participants are told to pretend the workshops are like a work day, so they can't be late. We’ve seen students waiting at the door five minutes before the session starts!,” says Jacqui.

In fact, results from a workshop on the North Coast proved to be immediate.

“We had a workshop at South Grafton High School, where one of the attending employers was a manager from the local Woolworths,” describes Jacqui.

“After the session where they learned how to look professional with hair and makeup techniques, the students went to this manager’s Woolworths branch. The manager was so impressed with how they were presenting themselves and their professionalism during the workshop, that all the students were offered casual jobs at the store.”

As many of you reading this would know, students already have a plethora of skills and attributes that employers are looking for. But with initiatives like the Job readiness workshops providing tips and encouragement for students to take that leap, there’s no telling what opportunities lay ahead.

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